Washington, DC

By Criminal Defense Attorney Floyd Oliver of Price Benowitz, LLP

In December of 2018, President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act into law.

This law was one of a few that have received bipartisan support under the Trump administration. The law gives thousands of people serving time in jail reduced sentences, allowing them to leave jail early and get on with their lives. The law was passed with the hope that it would reduce recidivism and give those serving time a second chance. Now though, prosecutors across the country are attempting to reverse the law in the most unfair way.

The law applies to inmates that were sentenced to jail for selling crack cocaine and gives them a chance to reduce their prison sentences. Now, however, prosecutors are unfairly targeting individuals that took a plea deal. During these deals, those accused often agree to plead guilty in exchange for the prosecution, stating that they were in possession of much smaller amounts of drugs than they actually were. As a result, federal prosecutors are going back on their word and trying to get people thrown back into jail.

This is completely unfair to individuals that have been freed and was not the way the law was intended to work and should not be allowed. Inmates that believed they were free once again now have to deal with prosecutors trying to get them thrown back in jail for an indefinite amount of time.

Prosecutors are now going back on plea deals. Although inmates have already served time according to those plea deals, prosecutors are now saying the full amount of drugs a person was caught with should be taken into consideration. They are failing to understand that if inmates had never accepted their deal, there is a chance they would have been found not guilty at trial. Since the deal stood at the time of trial, it should still stand now.

So far, there have been 1,100 sentences reduced under the First Step Act. The Justice Department has, unsuccessfully, tried to put 81 people involved in those cases back in jail. They have been unsuccessful so far and if justice continues, federal prosecutors will continue to be unsuccessful.

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