EDGEFIELD, S.C. (WIS) - There are about 2,000 prisoners housed at the medium-security federal correctional institution in Edgefield.
Monday afternoon, U.S. Attorney General William Barr toured the facility along with U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).
The Attorney General, Senators Scott, and Graham were receiving an update on how the ‘Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person’ Act, also known as the First Step Act, will be impacting federal prisons in the Palmetto State.
Attorney General Barr said, “The criminal justice process doesn’t end when you get a conviction and send someone to prison.”
The First Step Act will give non-violent offenders the skills they need to be productive once they leave prison with different programs. The Attorney General said the programs at the facility in Edgefield are a good model to follow. “A part of what we have to do is help these individuals ready themselves for reentry into society.”
The law, signed by President Donald Trump in December 2018, aims to reduce the sentences by giving well-behaved prisoners good time credit. It also increased the amount a prisoner can get while serving time. “All prisoners will receive enhanced good time credit. The number of days they can get off their sentence is increasing for everyone. It’s retroactive for prisoners. A number of prisoners from this facility will be released in late July as a result of that.”
As of April 30th, more than 1000 federal prisoners had their sentences reduced under Section 404 of the act. That’s according to the United States Sentencing Commission. More than 70 of those prisoners were in South Carolina.
Sen. Scott said, “The communities where the returned citizens are going into will be safer, because of the programs here.”
The First Step Act will also re-examine sentences for crack-cocaine offenders. “In the ’80s, we hit the crack-cocaine possession and dealing with 10 to 15 times longer sentences than powder cocaine. That had a disproportionate effect on African Americans,” Sen. Graham said.
According to the United States Sentencing Commission, 91% of the 1051 federal prisoners had their sentences reductions are African-American.