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Authorities begin to implement First Step Act

Those who are currently serving time in Minnesota prisons may be eligible for an early release because of the First Step Act. Beginning on July 19, 3,100 inmates will be released in an effort to comply with the law. Of those who are going to be released soon, about 900 will need to resolve immigration or other local charges. The Department of Homeland Security and other state agencies have discretion as to what happens to them.

As part of the First Step Act, inmates are given a risk assessment score, and that score is reevaluated every six months. Those who are deemed a low enough risk could be entitled to credits that allow them to be released sooner than anticipated. The law also grants greater access to home confinement and compassionate release programs that had been used infrequently before it was passed.

There are some concerns about how risk scores will be assigned. There are also concerns that the entity assigned to oversee the assessment process has come out against sentencing reform in the past. Finally, some believe that the Justice Department won't fully implement the law. Critics say that Attorney General William Barr holds outdated beliefs as it relates to punishing criminals.

A federal criminal defense attorney may be able to help an individual obtain a favorable outcome in his or her case. Legal counsel might assist those who have already been convicted in appealing those verdicts or obtaining an early release from prison. An attorney may argue that a person was wrongfully convicted or should be released because of advanced age or health concerns. It may also be possible to argue that a person has been rehabilitated and deserves to be paroled.

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