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Sentence Reductions Under the First Step Act

In 2018, Congress passed the reformative First Step Act, commonly called the FSA. One of the FSA’s reforms allows certain inmates to receive greater reductions for good behavior than was previously possible. This posts examines the FSA’s changes to earned time credit.


For many decades, inmates showing progress towards rehabilitation could serve part of their sentences outside of prison on parole. However, in 1987, Congress eliminated parole. With parole abolished, the only sentence reduction available for most inmates was a modest 15% for good behavior. This reduction, defined as “good time credit,” reduce 15% of a prison sentence. That’s … Read More »

Getting out of Prison on Compassionate Release

In 2018, Congress expanded the so-called “compassionate release” statute to allow inmates to petition their sentencing judges for reductions based on extraordinary circumstances. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the amended compassionate release statute probably saved the lives of many vulnerable inmates that judges saw fit to release. This post gives a summary of the provisions of this important law.

Background of Compassionate Release

Prior to 1987, inmates serving federal sentences could apply for and receive parole based on good behavior. After Congress eliminated parole, all inmates had to serve their entire sentences minus a modest reduction of up to 15% for … Read More »