Update on Implementation of the First Step Act

January 21, 2020

On January 15, 2020 the Justice Department issued a press release summarizing the developments on the implementation of the First Step Act and its required Programming. Below are excerpts from that press release. Of course, feel free to call the staff at National Prison & Sentencing Consultants if you have any questions.

  • In accordance with the First Step Act and due on Jan. 15, 2020, all inmates in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) system have received an initial assessment using the Justice Department’s risk and needs assessment tool known as the Prisoner Assessment Tool Targeting Estimated Risk and Need (PATTERN). Initially released last July, the tool is designed to measure risk of recidivism of inmates.
  • As of Jan. 15, 2020, inmates will be assigned to participate in evidence-based recidivism reduction programs and productive activities based on an initial needs assessment conducted by BOP. Participation and completion of those assigned programs and activities can lead to placement in pre-release custody or a 12-month sentence reduction under the First Step Act. A list of these programs will be published on the BOP’s website.
  • In response to the public comments received and in coordination with the Independent Review Committee (IRC), the Justice Department has made changes to PATTERN that enhance its effectiveness, fairness and transparency. These changes had only a slight effect on PATTERN’s high-level of predictability and include:
    • Adding a dynamic measure of offender’s “infraction free” period during his or her current term of incarceration;
    • Modifying programming measures by adding psychology treatment programs (Bureau Rehabilitation and Values Enhancement Program (BRAVE), Challenge, Skills Program, Sex Offender Treatment (both residential and non-residential), Steps Toward Awareness, Growth, and Emotional Strength Program (STAGES), and Step Down programs), the faith-based Life Connections Program (LCP), and the BOP’s Drug Education program, to the “Number of programs completed (any)” measure and combine technical/vocational and Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) into a new work programming measure; and
    • Removing Age of first arrest/conviction and voluntary surrender.