East Hartford Crime Law AttorneyThe First Step Act (FSA) is a federal law that was passed in 2018, and it was meant to help federal prisoners re-enter society successfully after being released. Unfortunately, there have been problems with the implementation of the FSA, and many prisoners have been unable to fully make use of the programs that should be available to them and earn credits that allow them to be released early. Those who are facing criminal charges and those who have been convicted of federal offenses will need to understand how this law affects them and how they can take steps to demonstrate that they are eligible for early release. 

Issues Affecting Minimum Security Prisoners Under the FSA

Of the 150,000 people incarcerated in federal prisons in the United States, around 24,000, or 15 percent, are classified as minimum security prisoners. These prisoners should have been afforded rights under the FSA that would allow them to earn credits against their incarceration time and be released to home confinement or other forms of less restrictive custody. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many minimum security prisoners' ability to be released early.

Even though the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) had a pandemic plan that should have allowed it to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks, it failed to properly implement this plan. During the height of the pandemic, many minimum security prisoners were placed in Special Housing Units, which are usually used to isolate prisoners as a form of discipline. They were also denied visitation and were unable to communicate with their family members, and they were unable to participate in programs that would allow them to earn credits that would allow for early release. While the CARES Act that was passed by Congress in 2020 allowed prisoners with health issues to serve sentences on home confinement, these provisions were not implemented consistently, and many prisoners were forced to remain in federal facilities even when they should have been able to be released early.


Hartford Criminal Defense LawyerWhile there are numerous situations where people may face criminal charges, some of the most serious cases involve crimes against children. Possession or distribution of child pornography is taken very seriously by law enforcement, and these cases often result in federal charges. However, these cases can also result in confusion about the penalties that may apply following a conviction. Recently, a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed how sentencing is handled when considering possession of video depictions of child pornography as opposed to still images.

Child Pornography Sentencing Guidelines Upheld

In the case in question, United States v. Phillips, a man was convicted of possessing 172 images and 92 videos that depicted child pornography. Under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, the sentences in these cases are based on the number of images that a person possessed. However, this leads to some ambiguity, since videos are different than still images. To address this issue, the Sentencing Guidelines include commentary stating that a 75-to-1 ratio should be used for videos. That is, one video should be considered to be equivalent to 75 images. Based on this rule, the defendant in this case was given the maximum sentence enhancement, and he was ultimately sentenced to 151 months in prison.

The defendant argued that following a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, the "75:1 rule" should no longer apply. He claimed that each video should be considered one image rather than 75 images. This change would result in a shorter sentence, ranging from 97 to 121 months in prison rather than 121 to 151 months. 


East Hartford Drunk Driving LawyerDrunk or intoxicated driving is illegal. The use of alcohol or other intoxicating substances can significantly affect a person's ability to operate a vehicle safely. A person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol is much more likely to be involved in a car accident that could result in the injury or death of others. Because of these risks, police officers may pull over drivers who appear to be intoxicated, and if they have probable cause to believe that a person has violated the law, they may perform an arrest, and the person may be charged with driving under the influence (DUI)

However, many people are unsure about how much alcohol they will need to drink to be considered legally intoxicated. An understanding of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels that people are likely to experience after consuming alcohol and the effects that this can have on them can help people know when they are intoxicated and when they may face DUI charges if they drive after drinking.

Intoxication at Different BAC Levels

A report by toxicology experts at Robson Forensic provides some illumination on how people are affected when they consume alcohol. Notably, women will typically become intoxicated more quickly than men when drinking. This is because women usually weigh less, and their bodies have higher levels of fat, which affects their ability to absorb alcohol into their systems. 


Hartford Juvenile Crimes LawyerMinors who are accused of committing criminal offenses often struggle to be treated fairly as they navigate the justice system. Juvenile justice cases typically focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment, and minors are often able to participate in programs meant to help them avoid future criminal activity and ensure that they can have a positive impact on their communities. Juvenile offenders may receive counseling or drug treatment, and they may be sentenced to community service or probation that will allow them to continue living in their homes and attending school. Incarceration in a juvenile detention facility may be appropriate in some cases, but minors will often be given opportunities that will allow them to return to their homes and reintegrate into society. 

However, there are some situations where minors’ cases may be transferred to adult court, leading to incarceration in adult prisons and other harsh punishments. Juvenile offenders who are tried as adults often face significant difficulties that limit their opportunities and lead them to re-offend. Because of this, criminal justice advocates are calling for new laws to be passed that will put an end to automatic transfers of juvenile offenders to adult courts and ensure that minors can be treated fairly in the justice system.

Issues That Affect Juvenile Offenders in the Adult Justice System

The juvenile justice system is based on the principle that children should not be permanently affected by mistakes they made while their brains were still developing. Unfortunately, minors who are tried as adults based on accusations of violent crimes or other serious offenses often face significant difficulties that affect their mental health and their ability to receive an education and pursue opportunities after they are released.


East Hartford Criminal Defense LawyerThe United States has the highest incarceration rates of any country in the world. There are nearly two million people who are held in jails and prisons at any given time, and in many cases, these prisoners are subject to abuse and inhumane treatment. Criminal justice advocates have been calling attention to the conditions in U.S. prisons for years, and they have sought to put reforms in place to protect the rights of prisoners and focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. In a positive sign, the person who was recently appointed as the director of the federal Bureau of Prisons is looking to implement some of these reforms.

Reforming the Bureau of Prisons

Collette Peters was named the director of the Bureau of Prisons in July of 2022. She had previously served as the director of the prison system in Oregon, where she sought to ensure that prisons were "normal and humane" while also reducing the overall prison population. She plans to implement some of these same policies in the federal prison system and focus on the rehabilitation of prisoners so that they can reintegrate into their communities after being released.

Ms. Peters will need to address some significant concerns, including ongoing staffing shortages in federal prisons. A 2021 investigation found that while the Bureau of Prisons had budgeted for around 20,000 correctional officers, it only employed around 13,000 people in these positions. These shortages have been caused by multiple factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the availability of other well-paying jobs in law enforcement and other fields. In many cases, prisons have been forced to use other personnel to guard inmates, such as cooks or nurses, and this has led to ongoing safety issues and increased levels of violence among prisoners. It has also affected prisons' ability to implement the First Step Act and provide prisoners with programs and classes meant to encourage rehabilitation.

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