skip to main content

S. 756 (115th): S. 756: FIRST Step Act

This bill became the vehicle for passage of the FIRST Step Act, the Senate's criminal justice reform bill. The text of this bill was replaced in whole on December 18, 2018 with criminal justice reform provisions. Those provisions were originally introduced in S. 2795 and H.R. 5682.

Prior to becoming the vehicle for passage of criminal justice reform, this bill was the Save Our Seas Act of 2018.

Last updated Dec 18, 2018. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Dec 22, 2018.

First Step Act of 2018


(Sec. 101) This bill directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to establish a risk and needs assessment system to evaluate the recidivism risk of prisoners; to guide housing, grouping, and program assignments; and to incentivize and reward participation in and completion of recidivism reduction programs and productive activities.

(Sec. 102) The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) must implement the risk and needs assessment system at its facilities.

The bill modifies the computation of good time credit to allow a prisoner to earn a maximum of 54 days per year of the sentence imposed (instead of 54 days per year of the sentence actually served).

(Sec. 103) The Government Accountability Office must audit the use of the risk and needs assessment system at BOP facilities.

(Sec. 104) The bill authorizes funds for FY2019-FY2023 to establish and implement the risk and needs assessment system. Of the amount appropriated, 80% is reserved for use by the BOP for implementation.

(Sec. 105) The bill does not authorize prerelease custody or supervised release for an individual serving a prison term for a state offense.

(Sec. 106) It prohibits discrimination against a program, treatment, regimen, group, company, charity, person, or entity based on the fact that it may be or is faith-based.

(Sec. 107) The bill establishes the Independent Review Committee to help DOJ:

review existing prisoner risk and needs assessment systems, develop recommendations regarding rehabilitative programs and productive activities, research and analyze the effectiveness of such programs, and review and validate the system. TITLE II--BUREAU OF PRISONS SECURE FIREARMS STORAGE

Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati Correctional Officer Self-Protection Act of 2018

(Sec. 202) The BOP must allow federal correctional officers to securely store and carry concealed firearms on BOP premises outside the security perimeter of a prison.


(Sec. 301) The bill limits the use of restraints on federal prisoners who are pregnant or in postpartum recovery.


(Sec. 401) This bill reduces, and restricts the application of, the enhanced mandatory minimum prison terms for certain repeat drug offenses involving high-level drug quantities (e.g., one kilogram or more of heroin).

Specifically, it reduces the mandatory minimum sentence:

from 20 to 15 years for a high-level offense after one prior conviction, and from life to 25 years for a high-level offense after two or more prior convictions. Additionally, the mandatory minimum penalty applies if the prior convictions are for a serious drug felony or serious violent felony (currently, a felony drug offense).

(Sec. 402) It broadens eligibility for the existing safety valve exception. Courts may impose a sentence below the mandatory minimum for certain nonviolent, cooperative drug defendants with a limited criminal history.

(Sec. 403) The bill reduces from 25 to 15 years the enhanced mandatory minimum prison term for a defendant who uses a firearm in a crime of violence or drug offense after a prior conviction for such offense.

(Sec. 404) It makes the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactive. A convicted crack cocaine offender sentenced before August 3, 2010, may petition federal court for resentencing.


Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2018

(Sec. 502) This bill amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968:

to revise and reauthorize grant programs for offender reentry demonstration projects; family-based substance abuse treatment; and evaluating and improving educational methods at prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities; and to repeal grant programs for offender reentry courts and drug treatment alternatives to incarceration. Additionally, the legislation amends the Second Chance Act of 2007:

to rename, revise, and reauthorize grant programs for technology career training demonstration projects and reentry mentoring services; to reauthorize offender reentry research and the grant program for offender reentry substance abuse and criminal justice collaboration; to reauthorize and modify eligibility for an elderly offender early release pilot program; and to repeal grant programs for the responsible reintegration of offenders and the study of Depot Naltrexone to treat heroin addiction. It amends the federal criminal code to establish partnerships between prisons and faith- or community-based nonprofit organizations to conduct activities to reduce recidivism.

(Sec. 503) The DOJ Office of Inspector General must conduct annual audits of selected grant recipients to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse of funds. The bill subjects grants to accountability provisions and limits the use of grants for conferences that use more than $20,000 in DOJ funds.

DOJ, in collaboration with interested persons, providers, and organizations, and state, local, and tribal governments, must coordinate and report to Congress on federal reentry programs, policies, and practices.

Finally, the National Institute of Justice must evaluate the effectiveness of grants for offender reentry and recidivism reduction programs.


(Sec. 601) The bill amends the federal criminal code:

to direct the BOP to place a prisoner in a facility that is not more than 500 driving miles away from the prisoner's primary residence, subject to bed availability and the prisoner's security designation; and to specify that the designation of a prison placement is not reviewable by a court. (Sec. 602) The BOP must place low-risk prisoners on home confinement for the maximum amount of time permitted.

(Sec. 603) The bill reauthorizes through FY2022 and modifies eligibility for an elderly offender early release pilot program.

(Sec. 604) The BOP must, as part of prerelease planning procedures, help a prisoner obtain identification, including a Social Security card, driver's license or other official photo identification, and a birth certificate.

(Sec. 605) The bill authorizes Federal Prison Industries to sell products to new markets such as the District of Columbia government and nonprofit organizations.

(Sec. 606) The BOP must incorporate specialized and comprehensive de-escalation procedures into its training programs.

(Sec. 607) The BOP must report on its capacity to treat heroin and opioid abuse through evidence-based programs, including medication-assisted treatment.

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts must report on the capacity of treatment-service providers to provide medication-assisted treatment for opioid and heroin abuse to prisoners serving a term of supervised release, including plans to expand access.

(Sec. 608) The BOP must establish pilot programs: (1) on youth mentorship; and (2) on service to abandoned, rescued, or vulnerable animals.

(Sec. 609) Probation and pretrial services officers must perform court-directed supervision of sex offenders conditionally released from civil commitment.

(Sec. 610) The bill expands data collection requirements regarding the National Prisoner Statistics Program.

(Sec. 611) The BOP must make tampons and sanitary napkins available free of charge.

(Sec. 612) The bill requires at least 8% of funds for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program to be used to provide technical assistance.

(Sec. 613) The bill prohibits juvenile solitary confinement, except as a temporary response to behavior that poses a serious and immediate risk of harm.