FIRST STEP ACT
Passed on December 21, 2018 here are the key points to take away:
1. Fix Good Time Credits- Ensures that incarcerated individuals can earn the 54 days of good time credit per year, and not just the 47 days that BOP currently allows. This retroactively applies to everyone in federal prison who has earned credit for good behavior.
2. Broadening of existing safety valve-
the defendant does not have—
“(A) more than 4 criminal history points, excluding any criminal history points resulting from a 1-point offense, as determined under the sentencing guidelines;
“(B) a prior 3-point offense, as determined under the sentencing guidelines; and
“(C) a prior 2-point violent offense, as determined under the sentencing guidelines”
Before the First Step Act, a defendant could not have more than 1 criminal history point in order to qualify for a safety valve. A safety valve is beneficial because not only does it subtract 2 points from the base offense level but it also gets rid of the mandatory minimums.
3. Changes Drug Mandatory Minimum Penalties Under Section 401-
Under the new First Step Act, higher mandatory minimums apply only if he/she has a prior “serious drug felony” or “serious violent felony.” The defendant must have SERVED a term of imprisonment of more than 12 months on the prior offense and must have been released within the 15 years of the current federal offense. Also, the serious drug felony or serious violent felony must have been punishable by a term of imprisonment of 10 years or more.
4. Amendment to 924(c) [Guns] Penalty Provisions-
Before the First Step Act, a second or subsequent count of conviction under 924(c) triggered a higher mandatory minimum penalty as well as stacking of theses sentences for each count. Now, higher penalty for a “second or subsequent count of conviction” under section 924(c) is triggered only if the defendant has a prior section 924(c) conviction that has become final.