Criminal justice reform is a topic that gets a lot in North Carolina and throughout the country. A large percentage of people feel the judicial system has major issues that require fixing. Lawmakers and those in power struggle often to figure out exactly how to make the changes needed. In 2018, national lawmakers passed the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at criminal justice reform.

Fox News explains that this bipartisan law to reform a broken criminal justice system has influenced states to make their own similar laws. The First Step Act was named because it was the first movement on a national level to help ensure sentencing laws no longer disproportionately punish minorities.

It also opens doors for rehabilitation over punishment. The First Step Act set the stage to allow nonviolent offenders to re-enter society and get the help they need to ensure they become productive and do not end up back in the system.

There are a number of good things about this act, which is why it drew supporters on both sides of the aisle. For example, it prohibits the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners, requires placing prisoners close to family, and expands the ability for compassionate release for the elderly and terminally ill.

The hope is this law will help prevent mass incarcerations, reduce the money spent on criminal justice and ensure that minorities are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.

One limitation of the law is that it only applies to federal prisons. States are on their own to make laws that mirror the First Step Act.

This information is for education and is not legal advice.