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The First Step Act faces many hurdles

On Behalf of | Dec 3, 2018 | Criminal Defense

Politicians from Maryland and throughout the country have supported the First Step Act. If passed through Congress, the legislation would work to shorten federal prison sentences and alter rules that tend to unfairly harm minorities. For instance, it would make sentencing more equitable for those convicted of crimes related to crack cocaine and powdered cocaine. However, it is important to note that the Department of Justice would still have the final say as to whether a person would qualify for an early release.

Furthermore, the bill only applies to federal cases. Currently, less than 10 percent of the American prison population is housed in federal prisons. The bill would only apply to about 1.5 percent of those individuals. Of course, this assumes that the legislation would get through the Senate. Mitch McConnell has said that there will be no vote on the bill in 2018.

It is worth noting that the crime rate is decreasing in the United States. Furthermore, research shows that draconian laws don’t do much to actually prevent crimes from occurring. In fact, by continuing to take a tough stance on drug crimes, harsher laws may be allowing illicit drug cartels to retain their influence in America and elsewhere in the world. What the First Step Act aims to do is differentiate between crimes that hurt others and those that only hurt the person who commits the act.

Whether an individual is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, it may be a good idea to hire an attorney. Doing so could make it easier to create a defense against the charge. An attorney may work to suppress evidence, cast doubt on testimony or take other steps to get a case dismissed or obtain a favorable plea bargain.