First Step Act gives inmates second chance

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WASHINGTON. — This week, the White House celebrated the signing of a historic prison reform bill that translates to hope and second chances for current and former non-violent inmates.

Thanks to the First Step Act, there have already been over 500 sentence reductions and over 700 non-violent prisoners released. This new legislation puts a support system in place for inmates before and after they are released, giving them a better chance at success.

Here are some key highlights of the legislation.

  • Rehabilitative Programs – 16,000 prisoners have enrolled in drug treatment programs thus far.
  • Fair Sentencing
  • Smarter Confinement Rules – This includes housing inmates closer to family for support.
  • $500 million for re-entry programs, education grants, job training, and reducing recidivism.

IMPD is joining forces with the Mckinney School of Law at Indiana University and the Second Chance Re-Entry Project to make sure opportunities from the First Step Act are reaching families here in central Indiana.

“When we look at this situation, it’s exciting for me because when I look and I see people getting sentences reduced and judges having the opportunity to have discretionary options. I think those are the things that need to happen to get society moving again” said Gregory Meriweather, a Community Strategic Initiatives Liaison for IMPD.

Friday April 5, IMPD is teaming up with the Second Chance Re-entry Program and the McKinney School of Law for the Road to Re-Entry Job and Resource Fair at the Eastern Star Church.

“The first component is jobs and resources, where we have vendors, and the second part is brief services and legal advice,” said Tres Eberhardt, President of the Second Chance Re-entry Assistance Program.

Over 60 community vendors will be onsite offering resources, and 25 employers will be there looking to hire people with a criminal history.

President of the Black Law Student Association Eric Hewlett says over 230 volunteer law students, business students and lawyers from Indy’s top law firms will be offering key legal services to help ensure success.

“We will be helping with expungements, child support, and licenses.”

“It’s time to figure out how to get people in a situation where they can have an opportunity to grow,” said Meriweather.

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