Inmates that once had hope for a second chance are now living in fear that they will be sent back to jail.
This is due to the fact that several lawyers at the Department of Justice are trying to overturn the First Step Act, an act that reforms the federal prison system and seeks to reduce recidivism
The First Step Act allows individuals convicted of selling cocaine to serve reduced sentences. It has already allowed 1,100 individuals out of jail after serving just a portion of the time they were sentenced to. The law was a response to the failure of tough-on-crime policies that not only do not work, but also disproportionately affect African Americans. Now, the Justice Department wants to put at least some individuals that have been freed back in prison.
This is not only an injustice, but it is downright cruel. After both sides of the aisle came together to get this Act passed, it is difficult to understand why federal prosecutors now want to take it away.
The Justice Department’s reasoning for this is that these individuals accepted a plea deal when they were first being tried. Within those deals, they agreed to plead guilty in exchange for agreeing that they were caught with a smaller amount than what they actually were.
However, those plea deals are already settled. If those accused had not agreed to them at the time, they may have been found not guilty during trial. That is a chance they no longer have as federal prosecutors continue to come after them.
Fortunately, those prosecutors have been largely unsuccessful so far. They have appealed 81 cases and have lost 73 of those. Prosecutors have stated that they intend to appeal 12 more. If they are successful, it will mean sending people back to jail after they were led to believe they were free.
This is something that has never been done before, which is why it is being met with so much resistance from nearly everyone, except those in the Justice Department.