EDGEFIELD, SC (WJBF) – On Monday, the United States Attorney General visited the federal prison in Edgefield, South Carolina. Both South Carolina senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, joined Attorney General William Barr to FCI Edgefield.
WBTW’s sister station NewsChannel 6 talked to them after they met with prison leadership.
The AG says part of the reason he chose the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield is because both Senator Graham and Senator Scott support the First Step Act. The federal prison reform legislation prompted their visit. The Attorney General says they were looking at in-prison programs to help make the new law as effective as possible.
Eric Young is the National President of the Council of Prison Locals. The union represents roughly 33,000 law enforcement officers across the Bureau of Prisons 122 facilities.
Young describes the First Step Act as “a second chance. A second chance primarily to those first time, non-violent offenders.”
Young traveled from Miami to be in Edgefield for the AG’s visit.
“It’s not often that you have Attorney Generals who actually come and visit our facilities,” Young says. “I wanted to personally thank him.”
President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act into law in December 2018. Both Republican and Democrat leaders in congress supported the federal prison reform legislation and so did liberal and conservative organizations.
Attorney General William Barr explains why he backs the act.
“Part of what we have to do is help these individuals ready themselves for re-entry into society and we also have to make sure that we are reserving our prison capacity for the people who truly pose a threat to the community,” AG Barr says.
The First Step Act reduces sentences for certain crimes and supports programs to decrease the rate of inmate return.
“At the heart of the act are these programs– training programs, drug treatment programs, vocational programs, educational programs that the inmates get credit for taking and that will better prepare the for re-entry,” AG Barr explains. “We were looking at those programs in effect [in Edgefield] now and learning about their success, some constraints on the programs, how we can expand them, how we can get better results from them.”
The first phase of the act is planned to take effect this month.
“We will put out a tool that will help us assess what kind of programs will best serve the interests of the inmates in terms of preparing them for re-entry,” AG Barr says. “We will also start releasing inmates who qualify for the credit that will reduce their sentence so they can be released right now at the beginning of the acts implementation.”
The tool is scheduled to roll out on July 19.