How the First Step Act is set to shape the landscape of criminal reform in Florida

How the First Step Act is set to shape the landscape of criminal reform in Florida

Criminal Lawyer. Relentless Defense.
The FIRST STEP Act, also known as “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person”, impacts mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, granting deserving prisoners the opportunity of a shortened sentence in exchange for job training and positive behavior, and affords both juries and judges the power to grant fair and just sentencing.

According to Piotrowski Law, a leading Miami criminal defense practice, December 2018 marked a milestone in the fight to course-correct one of the most egregious injustices in the American penal system: mandatory minimum and harsh sentencing prerogatives.

Passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump, the FIRST STEP Act, also known as “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person” has a clear and singular goal. To grant deserving prisoners the opportunity of a shortened sentence in exchange for job training and positive behavior, affording both juries and judges the power to grant fair and just sentencing.

Mandatory Minimums & Unintended Consequences

On the surface, mandatory minimum sentencing sounded like a reasonable and practical way to deter crime, especially that related to drug trafficking and drug-related crimes. However, according to Chad Piotrowski, a leading drug trafficking defense attorney, crime not only failed to wane, it exploded, exponentially.

America found itself with an entire subset of the population locked away for decades, for what were often “non-violent” first-time offenses. Harsh punishment ruled the day, while those issues at the crux of the problem were left to fester and grow.

These penalties fostered a situation whereby released prisoners were all but guaranteed to commit another crime once re-introduced to the world at large. Yet, prisoner reform (or rather lack thereof) wasn’t the only issue at play. During this period the U.S. prison population surged to the highest in the world, with the United States incarcerating more individuals per capita than China, Russia and Iran.

Implications of the First Step Act for Florida Residents

With the majority of research pointing to one’s environment and lack of opportunities as the determinant of one’s propensity to commit a crime, the First Step Act will take progressive steps to ensure prisoners have more opportunity and ability to earn a living once released.

Not only can participation in these programs help inmates earn up to 54 days per year off of their sentence, but it also extends power to judges during sentencing, arming them with additional ways they can circumvent mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines when warranted.

Specifically, as it relates to sentencing reform provisions (Title IV), the Act:

  • reduces certain enhanced mandatory minimum penalties for some drug offenders (Section 401);
  • broadens the existing safety valve at 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f), increasing the number of offenders eligible for relief from mandatory minimum penalties (Section 402);
  • reduces the severity of the “stacking” of multiple § 924(c) offenses (Section 403); and
  • applies retroactively the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 which reduced mandatory minimum penalties for crack cocaine offenses (Section 404).


About Piotrowski Law

Conveniently located in downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, Piotrowski Law has an extensive background and demonstrated track record of successful client outcomes for criminal cases ranging from cocaine trafficking defense in Miami to white-collar Federal crimes.

If you or a loved one is in need of professional legal assistance in or around Miami, reach out to Piotrowski Law using the information below or directly on their website.

Media Contact
Company Name: Piotrowski Law
Contact Person: Chad Piotrowski
Email: Send Email
Phone: 305-204-5000
Address:169 East Flagler Street, Suite 1600
City: Miami
State: Florida
Country: United States
Website: www.cplaw-miami.com/