Good Time Credit
You will hear the term “good time credit.” Good time credit allows federal inmates to earn credit towards early release from prison for good behavior. Federal inmates may receive up to 54 days of good time credit for each year of their sentence, as long as they have maintained good behavior. What this means, is that with maximum good time credit, your sentence will be reduced by 15%. If you got a 10 year or 120 month sentence, you would serve 102 months. You can calculate this number by taking the total number of months times .85.
But that’s not all, read on!
Earned Time Credits
In 2018, Congress pass the First Ste Act, a criminal justice reform bill that aimed to reduce mass incarceration in the United States. The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population and nearly 25% of its prisoners. Mass incarceration has crushing consequences and studies have shown it doesn’t make us safer. Part of the First Step Act was prison reform. The law aimed at expanding access to vocational and educational training in the federal prisons and allows eligible inmates to earn time credits by participating in rehabilitative programs.
Not every inmate is eligible. In order to earn credits you must score minimum or low risk on the Bureau of Prison’s risk assessment tool and you must not have committed an offense that is disqualified from earning credit. Those inmates that are not able to earn time credits may still be able to earn other incentives such extra visits, additional phone or email minutes, and extra commissary benefits and privileges.
Qualified inmates may earn ten to fifteen days of credit for every 30 days they successfully participate in programs designed to reduce recidivism and work assignments. You can view these programs here. These days can be applied toward extra community based programming, such as a halfway house or home confinement. The credits may also make you eligible for an earlier transition to supervised release- up to 12 months earlier.
The roll out of earned time credits has not been smooth and has been the subject of much criticism. To look at frequently asked questions on earned time credits, visit the Bureau of Prison’s FAQ here.
A First Step Act implies there will be a second step and we hope for that second step to come quickly. After you are sentenced to prison the Indiana Federal Community Defenders Office continues to stay on the lookout for ways to reduce prison sentences and often starts projects to review cases when there are changes in the law. Again, the best thing you can do to help is to stay out of trouble and program as much as you can, stay ready.