Edward Douglas was sentenced to life for a non-violent drug crime. But he was among the first to be freed thanks to the First Step Act, a bipartisan sentencing reform signed into law in December 2018, which impacts nearly 2,600 inmates in jail for crack offenses.
Douglas got the sentence for selling 140g of crack cocaine.
“Out of the life sentence that I had, I served 15 years, 11 months, and 10 days for narcotics,” he explained. “I wasn’t worried so much about me when I got there. You know, it was just hearing the stress in my mother’s voice. And the kids, missing their graduation and their prom, so that was what was taking a toll on me.”
Senator Cory Booker, who helped enact the First Step Act, said our jails are full of “human potential and ability,” and that a life sentence over fairly small drug offenses like Douglas’ are unjust.
“We have a system that is corrupt to the core and we have to change that system,” he stated. “What happens to people who come home from prison. Not being able to get housing, or food, or access to economic opportunity.”
The First Step Act is a small step toward justice for thousands of individuals who have been incarcerated for petty, inoffensive crimes.