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NIJ's Role Under the First Step Act

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2019
7 pages
Since the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has a central role in the implementation of major components of the federal First Step Act of 2018, which intends to reform the federal prison system and reduce recidivism, this paper describes NIJ's efforts to achieve these objectives.
NIJ is committed to assisting the Justice Department in assessing the Federal Bureau of Prisons' existing prisoner risk and needs assessment system; developing and evaluating a new risk and needs assessment system; and developing recommendations regarding effective evidence-based recidivism-reduction programs and activities, along with conducting research and data-analysis on evidence-based programs and assessment tools. In assisting the Justice Department in developing and implementing risk and needs assessment tools and evidence-based recidivism-reduction programs, the First Step Act calls for NIJ to establish an Independent Review Committee (IRC). This report describes NIJ activities in complying with this provision. Regarding the development of a new risk and needs assessment system, NIJ has reviewed existing risk and needs assessment systems and the available research literature; and NIJ has consulted with outside experts from state departments of corrections to learn more about their risk and needs systems. In addition, NIJ has hosted three listening sessions with a variety of relevant resources, including researchers, think tanks, prison advocates, corrections and law enforcement groups, and victim and victim advocacy groups. The focus of these groups has been their perspectives on the development of the risk and needs assessment system. Online access is provided to five NIJ-funded reports related to the provisions of the First Step Act, and a video is provided of the announcement of major developments in the First Step Act's implementation.

Date Published: June 1, 2019