Durbin, Grassley Statement On First Step Act Annual Report

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the lead sponsors of the landmark First Step Act (FSA), released the following statement regarding the publication of the First Step Act Annual Report this week: 


“The Justice Department’s recently released report shows significant progress towards the implementation of the First Step Act and the legislation’s goal of reducing recidivism.  We are pleased to see DOJ heed our calls and make changes to the risk assessment tool, which should help address racial disparities and inaccuracies in previous versions.


“Looking forward, DOJ must continue to engage with outside stakeholders, consultants, and auditors and be responsive to Congressional oversight to fully realize the First Step Act’s goals.”


Highlights from the Annual Report include:


  • The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is building capacity in existing programs and also developing new programs to expand Evidence-based Recidivism Reduction (EBRR) offerings.  As of January 31, 2022, there were 76,399 inmates participating in EBRRs and Productive Activities (PAs), despite limits to programming due to COVID-19.


  • As of January 31, 2022, BOP has filled 202 (61%) of dedicated FSA positions, including positions in education, health services, psychology, and more.


  • Under the Earned Time Credit rule finalized in January 2022, more than 6,100 eligible inmates who participated in recidivism reduction programming and productive activities have been transferred to supervised release or pre-release custody.


  • BOP has improved its needs assessment tool and provided an in-depth report on how the tool is implemented.  The Justice Department has also entered a contract for the first external validation of its needs assessment tool for 2023, as mandated by the FSA.


  • As of December 31, 2021, of the 9,791 inmates released to U.S. communities under the FSA, only 15.9% have recidivated (84.1% have not recidivated). The recidivism rate among FSA releases is dramatically lower than the recidivism rate for the overall BOP population, which stands at about 43%.