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Council on Criminal Justice on 8/2023 by Avinash Bhati, PhD
Passed in 2018, the First Step Act (FSA) was designed to reduce reoffending among people leaving federal prisons. Provisions of the FSA are summarized in a Congressional Research Service brief.
According to data published by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), 29,946 people were released from BOP facilities under the FSA from 2020 to January 2023.1
This analysis estimates recidivism rates among individuals released from BOP prior to the FSA who had similar risk profiles and were tracked for similar periods of time as those released under the FSA. Without access to data on individuals, researchers made several plausible assumptions in order to produce estimates using aggregate data that has been made public by the BOP and Office of the Attorney General (OAG). Those assumptions are explained in a supplemental methodology report. The analysis does not seek to evaluate the FSA or its implementation.