New Policies & Legislation

Updates in Federal and State Legislation

Our team keeps a close eye on new legislation and changes to current policies in order to help give you a voice in the larger legislative process.


U.S Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), reintroduced three pieces of criminal justice reform legislation to further implement the First Step Act and advance its goals in April, 2023. The FSA, enacted in 2018, made some initial reforms of sentencing laws and prisoner reentry into society. Durbin and Grassley reintroduced the First Step Implementation Act, the Safer Detention Act, and the Terry Technical Correction Act. Senator Grassley’s Office describes the goals of each of these pieces of legislation as below:

First Step Implementation Act

The First Step Implementation Act would further the goals of the FSA by:

  1. Allowing courts to apply the FSA sentencing reform provisions to reduce sentences imposed prior to the enactment of the FSA;

  2. Broadening the safety valve provision to allow courts to sentence below a mandatory minimum for nonviolent controlled substance offenses, if the court finds the defendant’s criminal history over-represents the seriousness of the defendant’s criminal record and the likelihood of recidivism;

  3. Allowing courts to reduce sentences imposed on juvenile offenders who have served more than 20 years;

  4. Providing for the sealing or expungement of records of nonviolent juvenile offenses; and,

  5. Requiring the Attorney General to establish procedures ensuring that only accurate criminal records are shared for employment-related purposes.

Bill text is available here.

Safer Detention Act

The bipartisan Safer Detention Act of 2023 would reform the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program and compassionate release from federal prisons. Specifically, the Safer Detention Act would reform the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program and compassionate release by:

  1. Clarifying that the percentage of time served required for the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program should be calculated based on an inmate’s sentence, including reductions for good conduct time credits;

  2. Expanding the eligibility criteria for the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program to include nonviolent offenders who have served at least 50 percent of their terms of imprisonment;

  3. Clarifying that elderly nonviolent D.C. Code offenders in BOP custody are eligible for the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program and that federal prisoners sentenced before November 1, 1987 are eligible for compassionate release; and,

  4. Subjecting elderly home detention eligibility decisions to judicial review (based on the First Step Act’s compassionate release provision).

Bill text is available here.

Terry Technical Correction Act

The bipartisan Terry Technical Correction Act clarifies that all offenders who were sentenced for a crack cocaine offense before the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 can apply for its retroactive application under Section 404 of the First Step Act, including individuals convicted of the lowest level crack offenses. Section 404 of the First Step Act allows crack cocaine offenders to request a sentence reduction pursuant to the Fair Sentencing Act. The Fair Sentencing Act, authored by Durbin, reduced the federal sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine from 100:1 to 18:1.

Bill text is available here.


No new legislation related to criminal justice reform was passed during Iowa’s 2023 legislative session.

Other States

While no new reforms occurred in Iowa in 2023, progress was made in other states, most notably voting rights were restored to those with felony convictions on probation or parole in Minnesota and New Mexico. According to the Sentencing Project, these two states restored voting rights to over 57,000 people. This barely makes a dent, however, in the over 4.6 million Americans the Sentencing Project said were prevented from voting in 2022.

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