Tuesday, January 29, 2019

BOP refuses to give defendants their good-time credit under First Step Act

For many years, there was a debate in the criminal justice community about how much time prisoners should be receiving as good time credit.  Even though they were supposed to be getting 15%, which calculates to 54 days a year, BOP determined that they were only entitled to 47 days a year.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re inside, every day matters.

The First Step Act fixed this problem and said that good time credit was actually 54 days a year.  And it even applied it retroactively, so many defendants believed that they would be getting out immediately.  But BOP is refusing to award the 54 days, citing to an error in the way that the statute was drafted.  From Reuters:

“You have thousands of families who thought the day this bill passed, their loved ones’ sentence was going to be recalculated and they were going to walk out of their halfway house, their home confinement ... or leave prison,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).

“It’s a frustrating mistake,” Ring said.

Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesman, said the department is analyzing changes for the law and plans to “carry out all necessary steps.”

Reuters has seen a letter sent to inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution Coleman, a federal prison in Florida, in which officials acknowledged the new good-behavior credits would not take effect yet.

“The law will allow BOP in the future to apply 54 days of credit for every year a sentence was imposed, which is a change to the prior law,” the letter says.

“While this change may result in additional credit for inmates in the future, it is not effective immediately nor is it applicable to all inmates,” it says.

Apparently the White House is working on a fix to the probematic language in the statute, but this is just absurd. Judges may want to take this into account when sentencing defendants.


Joe DeMaria said...

It truly is absurd, but not surprising, that BOP takes this position. BOP treats these prisoners as if they are assets of their business enterprise, to be hoarded as long as possible. Unless and until the Attorney General directs the BOP to start respecting the law, no change will occur. But don't hold your breath that any AG, Democrat or Republican, will ever direct BOP to start releasing prisoners.

Anonymous said...

You're forgetting the Private Prisons..

The inmates are 'cattle' to the BoP.

Anonymous said...

Wyn Hornbuckle? I think he wrote romance novels in the later 19th century.

Anonymous said...

No. Wyn Hornbuckle was a utility infielder for the St. Louis Browns in the 1920s.