Leroy Nolan has spent the last 26 years behind bars at a federal prison for a drug conviction. But what has become a decades-long routine for Nolan behind the barbed wire, steel gates, and concrete walls of FCI Edgefield, a prison in rural South Carolina, will all change on Friday when he walks out the front door, the AP reports. The 67-year-old is among about 2,200 federal inmates who will be released that day by the federal Bureau of Prisons under a criminal justice reform measure signed into law last year by President Trump. The measure, known as the First Step Act, gives judges more discretion when sentencing some drug offenders, eases mandatory minimum sentences and encourages inmates to participate in programs designed to reduce the risk of recidivism, with credits that can be used to gain an earlier release.
On a visit this past week to Edgefield—a facility with a medium-security prison and minimum-security camp—Attorney General William Barr took a firsthand look at some of the programs in place, from computer skills to cooking, auto mechanic training, and factory work. He met with prison staff and a handful of inmates, including some who will be released early under the First Step Act. Barr's visit signaled a major policy shift since his first stint as attorney general in the early 1990s, when he exuded a tough-on-crime approach, advocating for more severe penalties, building more prisons, and using laws to keep some criminals behind bars longer. Barr said the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons are both "all in in terms of making it work." (See how Kim Kardashian is involved in the First Step Act.)