QUESTIONS ABOUT FEDERAL PRISON SENTENCES

I have been receiving more letters from individuals that unfortunately have a prison sentence in their future. I cannot respond to all of the letters directly as stamps are 49 cents and I cannot blow my prison budget! As a result, I will continue to try and answer some of the questions right here.

HOW LONG WILL I SERVE IN PRISON IF I GET A 60 MONTH SENTENCE?

Initially, each prisoner earns “good time” credit which subtracts time off their sentences if they behave themselves in prison. The “good time” credit statute states that a prisoner will receive 54 days a year off his/her sentence. In reality, a prisoner really receives 47 days per year “good time” credit based upon the BOP’s interpretation of the statute. Hence, on a 60 month (5 year) sentence you will accumulate 235 days or approximately 8 months of good time credit which will reduce your prison time from 60 months to 52 months. In addition, a portion of that 52 months (usually 6 months) can be spent in a Residential Reentry Center (RRC) a/k/a halfway house. Assuming 6 months of Halfway house time, your prison time dwindles to 46 months.

There are other ways to reduce prison time. The Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program (RDAP) awards 1 year off your sentence for successful completion of the program. You should discuss your eligibility with your attorney or prison consultant. Assuming successful completion of RDAP, the example sentence noted above would be further reduced from 46 months to 34 months of actual prison time.

In addition., there are opportunities to to further reduce your actual prison time under the “Second Chance Act” which offers up to 12 months of addition RRC time to individuals who qualify under the act’s eligibility requirements. You should be cautioned that eligibility under this act is subjective and at times. arbitrary. Eligibility can depend upon your prison case manager and his/her interpretation of the Act. Again, you should discuss your eligibility under the Second Chance Act with your prison consultant. Assuming you do qualify, your prison time could be further reduced from 34 months to 28 months. I would direct any questions to Justin Paperny, who was my prison consultant.

Hence, a prisoner under “perfect circumstances”, could reduce his actual prison time under a 60 month sentence to 28 months under existing legislation.

Finally, there is legislation currently pending in Congress that would award additional sentence credits for prisoners involved in full time prison employment and/or programming. The proposed legislation would award 10 additional days a month of credit against a sentence or 120 days per year. This is a significant benefit. However, prison reform legislation seems to move at a snail’s pace(and often dies a slow death) so I would not count on this additional sentence reduction legislation being enacted in the near future. (I hope I am wrong!)

Ken Flaska

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