New Rule Makes Thousands of Federal Inmates Eligible for Release

According to an article published by the New York Times on January 13, 2022 thousands of federal inmates will become eligible for release this week under a rule the Justice Department published on Thursday that allows more people to participate in a program that allows prisoners to earn shorter jail terms.

As part of those guidelines, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has begun transferring eligible inmates to supervised release programs, residential re-entry centers or home confinement.

The rule, together with a decision by the department last month that well-behaved inmates released to home confinement during the pandemic would not have to return to prison, is a major step toward overhauling and shrinking the federal prison system, which some Democrats and Republicans consider costly and often unfair.

The guidelines published in the Federal Register on Thursday affect how the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons carry out the First Step Act, the sweeping bipartisan criminal justice legislation enacted in 2018 under the Trump administration. The measure expands job training and other efforts aimed at reducing recidivism, expands early-release programs and modifies sentencing laws.

The law gave the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons leeway in interpreting some aspects of its implementation, including whether credits for good behavior and job training accrued before the law was passed could be used to apply for early release. Under former Attorney General William P. Barr, the department had proposed a rule that would count only credits assigned and completed after Jan. 15, 2020.

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