South Carolina residents may be interested to learn that over 3,000 individuals will be released from the custody of the Bureau of Prisons starting in late July 2019. The release is meant to comply with the conditions of the First Step Act, a criminal reform act passed by Congress in 2018.

Most of those who will be released have been in halfway houses across the United States and were convicted of drug-related crimes. An estimated 900 individuals who are set to be released may be detained by immigration officials or local authorities. An additional 250 people who are terminally ill or elderly are also set to be released into compassionate-release programs that allow home confinement.

Though several of these programs were already in place, the bipartisan First Step Act took measures to enforce the release of the detained individuals. Proponents of the act believe that it is a good initial step in the much-needed criminal reform process in the country and that releasing these individuals will help them support their families and communities. Opponents believe that the Trump administration should take stricter measures against those who are convicted of crimes to deter others from following a similar path.

Someone who has been charged with a crime may face many long-term consequences, such as prison time, probation and fees. A lawyer could help a defendant take steps to mitigate the penalties of a conviction or even fight for an acquittal. Depending on the situation, a convicted person may even qualify for the First Step Act. Legal counsel would be able to help navigate the process of obtaining a possible release.