Prison reform in the US: less to arrest and earlier to release

We are talking about the beginning of the liberalization of the penitentiary system and criminal legislation after a long period, when they were mostly tightened. In other words, if the reform takes place, the US will less to arrest and earlier to release. But not yet.

The reform will also facilitate the conditions of detention of pregnant prisoners, give judges the right in some cases to impose more lenient sentences than the law provides, and allocate additional funds for the re-education of caregivers and their preparation for life in the wild.

The relevant bill entitled “First step” was adopted by the House of Representatives in may with a score of 360:59.

Last week it was supported by President Donald Trump. Now it is up to the upper house of Congress, in which the supporters of the reform need to enlist the votes of 60 senators to overcome possible obstruction.

The reform is criticized both by some conservatives who predict that it will lead to the premature release of dangerous criminals, and by some liberals who believe that it does not go far enough.

Too many prisoners

Proponents of the reform indicate that there are a lot of people in jail in the United States — much more than in other developed countries of the world. Their opponents argue that the large number of prisoners in the United States is primarily due to the high level of crime and, secondly, the effective work of the bodies of inquiry.

Financial conservatives say that the maintenance of a large number of prisoners begins to bankrupt the Treasury. Opponents argue that Federal places of detention cost $ 8 billion a year, which is some 0.2% of the us state budget.

The reform will not lead to the mass release of prison inmates. It is only about seven thousand prisoners, mostly convicted of drugs.

Supporters of the mass unloading of American prisons console themselves by the fact that it is again only the first step and that time is working for them: in the last two decades, crime in the United States has declined sharply (although it is still much higher than in the early 1960s). This, of course, influenced the public mood.

Pregnant women in shackles

Some components of the reform will not affect the total number of prisoners at all — such as the ban on shackling pregnant women.
Or it is proposed to order the Federal prison administration, known by the abbreviation BOP (Bureau of Prisons), to place prisoners as close as possible to the places of residence of their relatives. It is believed that the maintenance of family ties contributes to the correction.

Some changes will reduce the number of Federal prisoners somewhat, but only in the future, as they have no retroactive effect. Others will result in the immediate release of a small number of prisoners.

For example, in 2010, a law was passed that put an end to the disparity in penalties for powder cocaine and crack.
For crack, especially popular among African Americans, initially gave a greater jail time than for traditional coke, which foraged predominantly white. Considering the disparity in punishments discriminatory, in 2010 they were equalized, but not retroactively.
According to the current reform, this paragraph will be retroactive. In result of about three thousand prisoners sentenced for crack before 2010 will release immediate.

The reform will contain a paragraph abolishing the current order in which the presence of a firearm in the commission of a crime automatically dramatically increases your time, even if you do not use it. One was convicted a young father of two children, Weldon A., got on the sale of several bags of marijuana. Since Weldon was carrying a weapon (which he did not take out and did not threaten anyone), the judge was forced to sentence him to 55 years in prison.

Good behavior

The reform also provides for an increase in the time for which Federal time is automatically reduced for good behavior in prison.
Early release was abolished in the U.S. Federal system back in 1985, but for good behavior, you’re reduced by about 15%, or 47 days a year. The authors of the reform intend to increase this benefit to 54 days.

The reform gives judges the right to sentence convicts who have not used violence, especially drug traffickers, to a shorter term than the law provides.
“The first step is also to repeal the so-called three crimes act, under which an attacker convicted of a third serious crime is automatically sentenced to life imprisonment. The authors of the reform plan to replace the life term of 25 years.

Finally, the reform provides for additional funds for the training of prisoners in work skills that can feed them after their release.
If the reform takes place, it will be the rarest example of the bows of the two political parties in America.