Archive 04/26/2023

2023 GAO, High Risk Update: Management of the Federal Prison System

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress.

Taken directly from

Transcript for: High Risk Update 2023:

Management of the Federal Prison System Description:

As part of GAO’s 2023 update to our High-Risk List, we added the Bureau of Prisons for staffing issues that can affect inmate and staff safety, and the need to better monitor rehabilitation programs that help inmates return to the community.

Related GAO work: GAO-23-106203, High-Risk Series: Efforts Made to Achieve Progress Need to Be Maintained and Expanded to Fully Address All Areas Released: April 2023 [Gretta Goodwin:] Nearly 45% of federal prisoners who complete their time in prison are re-arrested or returned to federal prison within 3 years of their release. The Bureau of Prisons, or BOP, is charged with providing safe and secure confinement for inmates and with reducing recidivism by helping people successfully return to the community.

While BOP received $8.5 billion in the current fiscal year to do this, it continues to face challenges in its efforts to manage the federal prison system. We have reported longstanding and increasing concerns with the federal prison system across three areas. For 2023, we added Management of the Federal Prison System to our High-Risk List to help BOP focus its attention on the root causes of these matters, as well as the more than 20 recommendations we’ve made in these areas.

First, BOP has had challenges managing its staff and resources. For example, there have been six different individuals serving as BOP directors in the past 6 years. BOP also has increasingly used overtime to address staff vacancies. But that’s not a solution because officer fatigue presents a serious threat to prison safety.

Second, BOP’s plans to manage some of its inmate rehabilitation programs are limited. These programs require better planning and ongoing review for BOP to be successful in reducing some incarcerated individual sentences through credit-earning programs and in lowering the rates of recidivism.

Third, BOP needs to improve how it monitors and evaluates all of its programs. Some efforts that haven’t yet been evaluated include BOP’s management of disaster risk at its facilities, efforts to help incarcerated individuals secure ID documents before they leave prison, and the delivery of programs that may lower the risk of recidivism.

In March 2023, we recommended that BOP monitor whether it’s offering enough recidivism reduction programs. GAO and BOP leadership recently met on these issues, and the new Director of the Bureau of Prisons expressed her commitment to bringing sustained attention to resolving this high-risk area. In addition to sustaining leadership commitment, BOP needs to address the other four criteria for which GAO assesses high-risk areas–capacity, an action plan, monitoring efforts, and demonstrated progress. Attention to these and other issues we’ve identified could ultimately improve prison safety, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayers money.

Second Chance Reauthorization Act

Second Chance Reauthorization Act (SCRA). 12 MONTHS in an RRC Law  

  1. The regulation mandates that 
    • “Inmates may be designated to community confinement as a condition of pre-release custody and Programming during their final months not to exceed twelve months.” 28 C.F.R. § 570.21(a).
  1. This regulation also provides for 
    • home detention as a condition of pre-release custody during their final months of imprisonment,
    • not to exceed the shorter of ten percent of the inmate’s term of imprisonment or
    • six months.”
  1. BOP staff is required to review inmates for RRC placement 17-19 months before their projected release date, and inmates are to be individually considered using the five factors listed in §3621(b).

(1)the resources of the facility contemplated;
(2)the nature and circumstances of the offense;
(3)the history and characteristics of the prisoner;
(4)any statement by the court that imposed the sentence—
(A)concerning the purposes for which the sentence to imprisonment was determined to be warranted; or
(B)recommending a type of penal or correctional facility as appropriate; and
(5)any pertinent policy statement issued by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to section 994(a)(2) of title 28.

    • In designating the place of imprisonment or making transfers under this subsection, there shall be no favoritism given to prisoners of high social or economic status.
    • The Bureau may at any time, having regard for the same matters, direct the transfer of a prisoner from one penal or correctional facility to another.
    • The Bureau shall make available appropriate substance abuse treatment for each prisoner the Bureau determines has a treatable condition of substance addiction or abuse.
    • Any order, recommendation, or request by a sentencing court that a convicted person serve a term of imprisonment in a community corrections facility shall have no binding effect on the authority of the Bureau under this section to determine or change the place of imprisonment of that person.
      • Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a designation of a place of imprisonment under this subsection is not reviewable by any court.
  1. Elderly Home Detention through the First Step Act: Rare to Get Program availability at all BOP facilities.
    • The qualifying age of 60+ years and You can serve that last part at Home
    • you must have served two-thirds of the sentence must be served to be eligible.
    • the offender must be serving a term of imprisonment other than life imprisonment based on a conviction for an offense or offenses that
      • the offender must not have been convicted in the past of any Federal or State crime of violence, sex offense, or other offense enumerated in the statute.
    • the offender must not have escaped or attempted to escape from a BOP institution;
    • the BOP must determine that the release of the offender to home detention will result in a substantial net reduction of costs to the federal government, and
    • the BOP must determine that the offender poses no substantial risk of engaging in criminal conduct or of endangering any person if released to home detention.

THE PRESENTENCE INTERVIEW; Determines Placement and How Fast You’re Released

Is your referral to the Judge and then into the BOP

  • The Probation Officer, as he/she drafts The Presentence Report based on what they learn from you and their investigation.
  • The Judge, as we all know, he/she uses at sentencing,
  • The BOP uses THE PRESENTENCE REPORT as a Referral for placement, based on your clients:
  • 18 U.S. Code §3553, Provides options: critical in mitigating your client’s sentence and requires time to be developed by the defense.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDY – BP 8, 9 10, 11, and USC § 2241

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) Allows For US District Judges To Provide Relief 


But Only After The Administrative Remedy Process Is Complete

Lawyers Are Not In Prison With  You – You ARE Your Best Advocate

Supplies you will need;

  1. If you have access to a copy machine (possibly in the library) then learn how to use it. You may need a pen, a tablet with paper, envelopes, and likely stamps.
  2. Calendar – is critical.


The Administrative Remedy Process – Only 1 Complaint at a Time


1st) The Informal Complaint Is Called Your Cop-Out or BP-8 – Which Is Your Informal Complaint, or Resolution

You’re expected to try and resolve the matter through this simple conversation or BP-8.

  • As each facility has its own rules, to start the process, speak with your counselor 1st to learn how their process works.
  • When the counselor responds, remember what they tell you – with attention to detail writing your notes later, noting the conversation’s date, content, and time. Once the counselor explains the process, follow the process exactly.

When writing out your Informal Complaint, “Cop-Out or BP-8,” follow this process;

Write the date that the incident“Happened”, not the date that you’re filling out the form – unless it’s the same date. 

    1. Write an informal complaint, preferably on the day of the incident, or the next.
    2. Because the Formal complaint (BP-9) comes next and must be written within 20 days of the incident, begin to track these dates on your calendar.

Deadlines are critical, as the BOP-Staff may be Late, you are not given that same grace period, and if you are late, the staff may reject the complaint because the time to complain has expired.

1. Write down the day the incident happened.
2. Write down the day that you made the informal complaint (which has to be within 20 days of the incident – or Sooner)
3. Although a person in prison must adhere to the deadline of 20 days, staff members are not required to respond, nor do they have to respond. Nevertheless, you must show that you attempted to resolve the matter with an informal complaint.

Only after you’ve lodged The Informal Complaint (BP-8 or Cop-Out), can you next launch a formal complaint.

  • If the informal complaint is submitted to the counselor on day 1, and if the counselor does not reply within one day, that next day I would ask the counselor for the BP-9 form to launch the formal complaint.

Remember the rules: they provide 20 days from the time of the incident – for you to start the administrative remedy process with a BP-9.


Launching the “informal complaint”  (BP-8 or Cop-Out) allows you to, 1) Populate the Record, and 2) shows that you’ve given staff members an opportunity to Resolve The Complaint Informally. 

The Formal Process Starts with the BP-9

The record becomes crucial to the administrative remedy process, so keep copies of everything you’ve done.

An Example of a BP-8 or Cop-Out – regarding ETC Calculation Discrepancy

“I’m filing this (on insert date) because my release date does not reflect what I believe to be my Earned Time Credits. I feel by my calculations that I have met all the criteria of the First Step Act, as I have participated in (xx #) Productive Activities over the past (xx#) months. I request that the BOP update my sentence computation sheet to include my Earned Time Credits, thank you.” 

Make a copy for your records.



You now can request your BP-9 (Your Administrative Remedy Request to the Warden)


Again, the rules require you to receive the BP-9 from your counselor, who then enters your name and the date you requested the Form BP-9 into their BP-9 logbook. This logbook is now part of the record. This should be the 2nd or 3rd day from when the incident happened.

Instructions to complete a BP-9:

  1. This form has a limited amount of space, so if you need additional space, you may write “See attachment,” where you can attach just one page to the form.
  2. On that page provide a complete explanation, using as many details as possible to strengthen your position.
    Only list One Complaint per Administrative Remedy. 

    1. If you have different complaints, each requires different and separate Administrative Remedy Requests.

Be very organized as you begin to write your complaint, including;

  1. Start with the date and time of your informal complaint (BP-8) –different from when the incident occurred.
    • If you did not receive a response to your informal complaint
      • Write that the staff member did not respond to your informal complaint, and to comply with deadlines, you filed the (BP-9) formal administrative remedy request.
    • If you received an unfavorable response,
      • Write that you disagree with the decision on the informal complaint.
      • This is why you’re filing a (BP-9) formal administrative remedy request.
  2. If you’ve missed the deadline to file the formal complaint within 20 days of the “Incident”, you must explain the reason why.
    • For example, if you’re locked in the SHU and your counselor did not provide you with a BP-9 form.
  3. Do your best to comply with the deadlines, because the BOP will do its best to deny your requests.

At the end of the form, indicate how you are submitting the form.

  1. If you’re submitting it to the counselor, include their name, date, and time.
  2. If you’re putting it into the unit mailbox, write the date and time you’re putting it into the mailbox.
  3. If you’re in the SHU and you want to submit to a staff member that works in the SHUwrite the date and time and the name of the staff person you’re passing the form to.

Make at 3-4 copies of the form and the supporting documentation.

  1. If no copy machine is available, then make sure you handwrite the 3-4 copies.
  2. You will need these copies for the next phases of the process when you appeal to The region, Central Office, and possibly, the District Court.

Your personal record should indicate,

  1. The date that you filed the BP-9,
  2. How you made copies (and the number of copies) of the BP-9, and
  3. The date that you anticipate receiving a response from staff members – mark your Calendar.
    1. To anticipate the approximate date that you expect a response,
      • Add three weeks, or
      • You Expect a Response to your BP-9 21 days to the day after it’s filed
      • Don’t Wait – the Warden doesn’t reply.
    2. Theoretically, the warden is supposed to respond to the BP-9 within 20 days after the date that the warden received the form.

Example of BP-9
“I’m filing this so that my Earned Time Credits can be applied to my sentence computation. I have attached the initial request I made to staff on (insert date) when I requested my updated sentence computation sheet that should have reflected my Earned Time Credits.

As I did not receive an updated sentence computation reflecting the Earned Time Credits that I have earned, per the First Step Act and BOP policy Number 5410.01, please provide an updated computation sheet describing why my sentence computation sheet does not reflect the time credits I believe I have earned in accordance with the First Step Act and BOP policy Number 5410.01.
(I am attaching a copy of my initial copout)


You may request a BP-10, Administrative Remedy Request to the Regional Director


If the counselor is unavailable, 

  1. you should record that the counselor is unavailable and then
  2. write a letter, requesting that the Regional Director treat the letter as a BP-10, Regional Administrative Remedy Appeal.

Options once this form is sent:

  1. The warden replied but did not resolve the matter in your favor, or you believe the warden made an error, or
  2. You did not receive a response from the warden within the allowed time, as identified in the First Step Act and BOP policy Number 5410.01.
  3. Either #1 or #2, allows you to file the appeal with the regional director for the region where your prison is located.


I. The warden replied to your BP-9 but did not resolve the matter in your favor, or you believe the warden made an error, or


  • I disagree with the decision that the warden gave regarding my initial administrative remedy request.
    1. I am now exercising my right to appeal, in accordance with the BOP policy.
    2. Use the same description for your problem as you used in the BP-9.
    3. Should you have to write out the copy by hand, you must make at least two copies.
    4. Ensure that you do not introduce anything new into the BP-10 that you did not introduce in BP-9.
    5. The BOP will only consider what you submitted to the warden.
    6. I am filing this appeal within the allotted time frame.

II. You didn’t receive a response from your warden within 20 days, as the rule for administrative stipulates in Program Statement 1330.18, Section 542.18.


  1. I attached a copy of the administrative remedy request form that I filed on (insert date).
  2. I am now exercising my right to appeal, in accordance with the BOP policy.
  3. Use the same description for your problem as you used in the BP-9.
  4. Should you have to write out the copy by hand, you must make at least two copies.
  5. Ensure that you do not introduce anything new into the BP-10 that you did not introduce in BP-9.
  6. The BOP will only consider what you submitted to the warden.
  7. “I am filing this appeal within the allotted time frame”.


As described in the section above on BP-9, make sure that you’re conscious of deadlines.

The rules require a person to file the BP-10, 

  1. Within three weeks (21 Days) of the time the person receives a response to the BP-9 or
  2. The time of the extension was supplied by the warden or BOP staff.
  3. Be super cautious about maintaining these deadlines and keep an accurate record(s) of why you cannot.


Make sure to attach a copy of the original Form BP-9 that you sent earlier.

And also make at least two copies of the form BP-10, for the same reasons we discussed earlier


The policy provides that the Regional Director has 30 days to respond to the BP-10.

  • I would recommend that you keep a calendar to keep track of (time and days) their four weeks, but allow five weeks for mail slowdowns – keep an accurate record in the same way that we describe above:

The date you filed the BP-9; the Date you received, or expected response to your BP-9

The date you filed the BP-10; the Date you received or expect a response to your BP-10

Example BP-10
I appeal the warden’s response to my request for administrative remedy. On (insert date) I filed a notice requesting an accurate sentence computation sheet showing the Earned Time Credits I earned per the First Step Act and BOP policy Number 5410.01. I did not receive a favorable response and I appealed. The warden did not grant the relief requested. To comply with the Prison Litigation Reform Act, I appealed the BOP’s denial to apply Earned Time Credits to my sentence computation and request administrative remedy.
(I am attaching copies of my initial copout and BP-9)

Regional Director Addresses
Regional Director / Mid-Atlantic Regional Office
10010 Junction Drive, Suite 100-N
Annapolis Junction, Maryland 20701

Regional Director / North Central Regional Office
Gateway Complex Tower II, 8th Floor
400 State Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66101-2492

Regional Director / Northeast Regional Office
U.S. Custom House, 7th Floor
2nd and Chestnut Streets
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106

Regional Director / South Central Regional Office
4211 Cedar Springs Road, Suite 300
Dallas, Texas 75219

Regional Director / Southeast Regional Office
3800 Camp Creek Parkway, S.W.
Building 2000
Atlanta, Georgia 30331-6226

Regional Director / Western Regional Office
7950 Dublin Boulevard, 3rd Floor
Dublin, California 94568

When the time is right, proceed to the final stage of the administrative remedy process, with an appeal to the General Counsel in the Central Office, on a form BP-11.



BP-11, Administrative Remedy Request to BOP General Counsel in Washington DC

  • If the counselor is unavailable, you should record that the counselor is unavailable and write a letter, requesting that the Central Office treat the letter as a BP-11, Central Office Administrative Remedy Appeal.

If the regional director responded to the BP-10, but you do not think the regional director made the correct decision, then take the next step of filing a BP-11.

  • When the staff member provides the response to the BP-10, request a form BP-11 to appeal.

File your BP-11 at the following address:
Bureau of Prisons
National Inmate Appeals Administrator,
Office of General Counsel
320 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534

Use the same instructions provided in the previous section, but begin by writing:

I disagree with the regional director’s decision regarding my administrative remedy appeal request that I filed on (insert date).

Consistent with BOP policy, I am filing this appeal.”

  1. You should write your description in the same way that you wrote in the BP-9 and the BP-10.
  2. Make sure that you create three copies of each page, even if you have to write it by hand.
  3. Write/document the manner you’re using to submit the appeal, indicating whether you,
    • Put it in a mailbox, including the date and time, or
    • Giving it to a staff memberincluding the date and time.


The rules: you must file the appeal to headquarters within 30 days of the date that the regional director responded.

 If there is a valid reason for being late,

  1. Be clear in explaining the reason for missing the deadline.
  2. It had better be a reason that is beyond a person’s ability to control, and
  3. not because of disorganization.

Attachments: attach a copy of the BP-9 and a copy of the BP-10.

  • Make at least two copies of the BP-11, even if you must write by hand. 

At the conclusion of this process, you want to have in your possession:

  • Two copies of the informal complaint (BP-8)
  • Two copies of the BP-9
  • Two copies of the BP-10
  • Two copies of the BP-11

You may need those copies to continue the process with a motion to the US District Court.


Make sure that you memorialize all dates with accurate records.

  1. I filed my BP-11 on (insert date), which is within 30 days of the time I received the regional director’s response.
  2. I made two copies of my BP-11 and have two copies of the previous submissions.
  3. I expect to get a response to my BP-11 within 40 days, but I will wait for 45 days to account for mail delays.
  4. If the regional director did not respond to the BP-10 within the appropriate time, then follow the same instructions as above, but change the first line to read:
    • I have complied with all deadlines in my administrative remedy request, but
    • I did not receive a response from the regional director within 35 days. For that reason,
    • “I am filing this appeal”

Example BP-11
I appeal the Regional Director’s response to my request for administrative remedy. On (insert date) I filed a notice requesting an accurate sentence computation sheet showing the Earned Time Credits I earned per the First Step Act and BOP policy Number 5410.01. I did not receive a favorable response, and I appealed to the warden on (insert date). The warden did not grant the relief requested. To comply with the Prison Litigation Reform Act, on (insert date) I appealed to the Regional Director for administrative relief. The BOP continues to deny the application of my Earned Time Credits to my sentence computation, and I request an administrative remedy.

(I am attaching copies of my initial copout, BP-9, and BP-10)


5th. If the Central Office does not grant relief within 30 days,you have complied with the PLRA Process and exhausted all requests for Administrative Remedy. 

You’re Now Ready For U.S. District Court


The Actual § 2241 pdf. Form, For HABEAS CORPUS UNDER Title 28 U.S.C. § 2241

  1. This goes to the Federal District Court.
  2. You may now submit a: Pro Se Motion pursuant to Title 28 USC § 2241FORM § 2241
  3. They should have copies of all previous correspondence regarding your pursuit of administrative remedy.

This letter is ready to be written to the court, as below,

YOUR NAME (Petitioner)


Warden (Respondent)

Beneath the heading insert the following heading, in bold or in all caps:

Regarding: Pro Se Motion – For Application of First Step Act (FSA) Earned Time Credits Toward Sentence Computation.

Then write it as a standard letter to the judge:


Dear Judge ….:
I am not an attorney, and I am filing this pro se motion, moving this Honorable Court to order the Bureau of Prisons to apply First Step Act (FSA) Earned Time Credit to my federal prison sentence.


On (insert date), the President of the United States signed into law the “First Step Act” (FSA) 18 U.S.C. § 3632. The FSA grants eligible inmates the ability to earn time credits (ETC) for successfully participating in and completing approved Evidence-Based Recidivism Reduction (EBRR) programs or Productive Activities (PAs).

My conviction qualifies me to earn the FSA credits.

Since entering federal prison on (insert date) to serve a sentence of (insert the number of months), the record shows that I have avoided disciplinary infractions and participated in Evidence-Based Recidivism Reduction (EBRR) programs or Productive Activities (PAs) as directed by staff members.

On several occasions, I requested BOP staff members to apply the credits ETC toward my sentence computation. Despite numerous requests, the BOP has not updated my computation sheet to reflect the ETC I earned, in accordance with the First Step Act and BOP policy Number 5410.01.

Pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), I have complied with the Prison Litigation Reform Act, requiring me to exhaust administrative remedies to resolve this grievance.

Petitioner contends that the BOP failed to adhere to the FSA in its imposition of his sentence in two distinct areas:
1. The BOP failed to apply 15 days of ETC for every 30 days of confinement, and
2. The BOP failed to correctly calculate the FSA and Productive Activity or EBRR credits toward the remainder of his sentence.

Petitioner contends that not applying the correctly calculated FSA Earned Time Credits violates the Congressional intent under Title 18 U.S.C. § 3632 and inflicts irrefutable harm, by sanctioning him to a longer prison term than allowed under Title 18 U.S.C. § 3553 and § 3632.

Petitioner contends that he made a good faith effort in attempting to resolve these concerns prior to filing in the District Court. The movant submitted the following administrative remedy forms:
1. Initial request on (insert date)
2. BP-9 Administrative remedy form (insert date)
3. BP-10 Regional Appeal for Administrative remedy form (insert date)
4. BP-11 Central Office Appeal for Administrative remedy form (insert date)

Section (4) Time Credits: Application of Time Credits Toward Pre-Release Custody holds that:

Time credits earned by prisoners who successfully participate in recidivism reduction programs or productive activities and who have been determined to be at minimum or low risk for recidivating pursuant to their last two reassessments shall be applied toward time in pre-release custody. The Director of the Bureau of Prisons shall transfer prisoners described in this subsection into prerelease custody (also known as Supervised Release).


For the foregoing reasons, Petitioner moves this Honorable Court to GRANT immediate Habeas Corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, forcing the Bureau of Prisons to apply all Earned Time Credit to the Sentence Computation and grant an immediate release.

I, Your Name, under penalty of perjury, hereby affirm that all statements given hereof are truthful to the best of my knowledge. I have mailed a certified copy of this motion to the Assistant United States Attorney’s Office for the (insert district), and I also sent a copy to the Clerk of the Court.

The petitioner requests the Clerk of the Court to return a stamped copy to the petitioner showing this motion has been filed with this Honorable Court and showing the appropriate case number for this pro se motion filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.

Respectfully submitted,



(Insert address)

Note: To complete this pro se motion, I would have taken the additional steps:

Included copies of all my requests for administrative remedy (BP-8, 9 10, and 11).
Send a copy to the Assistant United States Attorney for the district.
Send a copy to the Clerk of the Court for the district of confinement (not the district that imposed the sentence).


  • BOTH ARE MANAGED BY: THE RESIDENTIAL RENTRY MANAGERS of each Halfway House, and their contact information should be posted there.
  • If you cannot get a BP-8 (Cop-Out), start the process by writing a letter to them there, preferably a registered return receipt, unless you can call them.


Today, Is Your Client Prepared to Speak with Their Judge? What is the ‘1’ Thing that Differentiates Them from Everyone Else Entering Their Judge’s Courtroom?

Your Sentencing Hearing is a pivotal moment that could profoundly impact your future. You need to recognize that the Judge has already assessed your Presentence Report, which was created by your Probation Officer, and carefully considered your case. Additionally, the Judge has received a recommendation regarding your sentence. It’s imperative to understand that this hearing does not have to be a mere formality but an opportunity to present yourself in the best possible light and potentially influence your outcome. Take it seriously, and prepare accordingly. I hope this video is helpful and gives you a starting point to work with.

Facing America’s Criminal Justice System for the first time is a life-altering, surreal, and frightening experience. The importance of preparation and working with your legal team before the presentence interview cannot be overstated.

Once this has all been completed, as an attorney, you’ve prepped your client right up to their sentencing hearing.

Then, after sentencing, there still are a lot of fears and unknowns as they face either their self-surrender date or are remanded at that time.

Attorneys know the law, but the nuances of navigating through Federal Prison aren’t part of a traditional legal defense. This requires a unique set of knowledge and skills that interest those assessing a person’s access to freedom.

STAKEHOLDERS are part of the system that controls everything that happens following the guilty verdict and until you’re released from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They are responsible for keeping society safe by reducing criminogenic needs for those who will eventually be released. From the Judge to the BOP Case Manager and Unit Team, to the Probation Officer on Supervised Release, and then possibly back again to the Judge to get off Supervised Release early, at each stage, these STAKEHOLDERS make decisions that impact your client’s future.

Realize that even if you’re doing everything right from the start, the only person you can control is – you, and still, there will be disappointments. Therefore, being prepared at every stage, keeping your eyes open with a positive attitude, and continuing to add to your Reentry Plan are all ingredients needed for getting home to your loved ones. Remember: No Cell Phones, No Trouble, and No Infractions.


In this video, I introduce you to your STAKEHOLDERS, who will be making decisions that determine and impact your immediate future. Some of these you will meet personally, while others, such as the BOP Staff located at the BOP Designation Center in Grand Prairie, TX, you will never meet. These two groups have in common that they will, for lack of a better term, profile you based either on (1) your INDICTMENT and Presentence Report or (2) Your Personal NARRATIVE, if it’s included with your Presentence Report and Indictment. Which do you suppose will portray you in the best light? I hope the video provides some clarity.

1  Your Judge, who already knows that;

  • Your Attorney is paid to keep you out of prison or, at best, spend the least time “in prison”.
  • The Probation Officer will conduct their interview, draft the Presentence Report, and recommend your sentence and placement to the court based on your interview. Currently, all they know about you is the Narrative provided by the DOJ through their Indictment of you – this, you can change.
  •  The Prosecutor wants another conviction in his/her file. Currently, all they know about you is also the Narrative provided by the DOJ.
  • The DOJ wants Jail time.
  • But your Judge knows nothing about you – and only Your NARRATIVE can begin to change this, starting with 1st) Helping the Judge Understand Who You Are – and why You Deserve Leniency – Selling your Luxury Cars, Homes, and other stuff if You Have Financial Penalties, 2nd) What Changed in Your Life – That Caused You to Break the Law? 3rd) Invest In Yourself You Can’t Change the Past, But You Can Change Your Future, start by writing your Story or Narrative.

2.     Your Attorney, until now, also knows nothing about your background, but their time is mostly spent on your legal defense.

3.     The Probation Officer will conduct your Presentence Interview and then write the official Presentence Report. But a week or so before your Presentence Interview, your attorney could provide your Probation Officer with your,

I. Copies of all of your Personal Identification and Biographical Background Information


III. REENTRY/RELEASE Plan and answers to the,

IV. Answers To The FSA SPARC-13 Assessment – ‘Questions,’ with them all woven into one document. This does not replace your ‘Interview,’ but it will help save the Officer some work (Sample Probation Presentence Interview Intake Form) while giving them time to know you before you meet in person. You also demonstrate to them that you have done your preparation.

  • Why be prepared with answers to the Assessment Questions? When you arrive at your 1st meeting with your Case Manager, these Assessments must be done and completed for your FSA Programs and Earned Time Credits (ETC) to be offered and then counted – without you taking the Assessment Survey, the programs cannot be offered.
  • During the interview, they can now ask questions and get to know you more personally.
  • Some may appreciate your efforts and become advocates since they are overworked and have no time.

4.     The Prosecutor wants a conviction and only knows about you through the DOJ’s Narrative or your Indictment. Your Narrative may sway them, too.

5.     The BOP Designation Center in Texas places you into a BOP Prison without ever meeting you.

6. Your Probation Officer during Supervised Release. To date, all they know about you is the Narrative released by the DOJ through their Indictment. Your Narrative and Release Plan can change that and your life.


The Personal NarrativeReentry-Release Plan, and answers to the SPARC-13 Assessment Questions (as you are expected to answer these questions when you first arrive, you might as well become familiar with them early), are written as one document and weaved into the Presentence Report when provided to your Probation Officer, a few weeks before your Presentence Interview.

Here, the defendant has accepted responsibility, expressed remorse for the victim(s) pain, suffering, and how it has impacted them and agrees with the court about the seriousness of the crime without minimizing it.

  • The caveat is that the defendant must put time and effort into writing their Narrative, Allocution, and Reentry Plan because their future depends on it being honest, pure, and from the heart.

PERSONAL NARRATIVE. Writing your story through Your Narrative tells the Judge how you came to this point in your life. This is an arduous, self-reflective experience for you to go through, forcing a face-to-face with your innermost thoughts. This is your autobiography (of you and those around you), the good, the bad, and the ugly. It may require you to enlist someone with federal sentencing mitigation experience to guide you in drafting your narrative, but this is the story of your client’s life and requires their participation. This short 3-4 minute video provides another way to think about when writing your Narrative.

18 U.S.C. § 3553 – Imposition of a Sentence

  1. NATURE and CIRCUMSTANCE You want to include: 1) What led you to do this, 2) How did you get involved, and 3) What was your involvement? [check that your involvement reflects what is in the official Presentence Report].
  2. HISTORY and CHARACTERISTICS Here you want to include 1) Your remorse, 2) How you ruined your victim’s lives, 3) Show what you’re doing to change and improve yourself regarding rehabilitation (NA, AA, GA, Therapy, etc.) and paying restitution – if you can, 4) Where there was a positive or negative family life – explain this, 5) Traumatic event – review with details, 6) Good things you’ve done, explain with examples, 7) Show Judge your Future Plans not to come back, and 8) Cooperation = Substantial Information that does not implicate another 8a)Rule 35. Correcting or Reducing a Sentence, or 8b) Offenders who cooperate with the government in its efforts to prosecute others can receive credit for their “substantial assistance” in at least two ways.
  • Taking weeks to months to complete can result in a distilled version of yourself that is honest and pure, where you feel Remorse, Accept Responsibility, and Identify with the Victims of the Crime You Perpetrated.
  • Mention if you have already started taking these before your Indictment or Presentence Interview (if applicable AA, NA, Gambling, or Sex offense) therapy and forensic (per your attorney, for example, Dementia, there is only ‘1’ Prison Nationwide with a very limited number of beds), therapy sessions.
  • If the resulting Narrative or Your Story – is quite the opposite of the DOJ’s Indictment Narrative, where you sounded like ‘America’s Most Wanted’, you did a Great Job!

REENTRY/RELEASE PLAN EXAMPLE.  Include that you realize you need to learn from the FSA Risk Reduction Programs and implement their lessons into your daily life. Then expand on an appropriate theme, “Since my indictment, arrest, criminal charge, plea hearing, trial or guilty plea, presentence investigation, and sentencing process, I had the time to think about all that I have done. I made BAD decisions, except it shouldn’t be about ME – It’s about MY Victims and What I did. This is most important, as I must Prove my Remorse and my Efforts to Change and Accept Responsibility for The Pain I caused to my victims, the community, my family, and myself. To the court, I do not want to be here again – I have learned a hard and humbling lesson.

If you are currently taking FSA Programs for AA, NA, Gambling, or a Sex Therapy Program, where applicable when released, you want to continue the Therapy and Rehab for AA, NA, Gambling, or Sex therapy rehab. sessions. Write this.

You also have copies of your Social Security Card, Driver’s License (if expired, it needs to be updated with a new test likely), and Birth Certificate. You are grateful to be moving into a home with a support structure. While you have been self-employed forever, you have a letter from a friend willing to hire you, “all I have to do is let them know, as they are expecting my call from me.” “As you see, the letter was also a character letter that I initially provided.”

This YouTube covers Self-Advocacy or everything you can do before your Presentence Interview and then while incarcerated to help you expedite your way to freedom. While this sounds simple – It’s Not. You will be faced with many days of frustration and disappointment, and BOP staff who appear to be there just to give you a hard time. On the other hand, there will be those who care and will, over time, surprise you in good ways, yet unseen. While nothing can or is guaranteed, please use no cell phones, keep busy with constructive activities and non-fiction reading, and document everything that you you for your record. This video provides helpful content.

At the same time, you can also plan to be self-employed again if your role in that business was not part of your criminal charge. Then everything that goes into a traditional business plan, including what you would present to a bank, should be professionally (not handwritten, not expensive) put together, as your Probation Officer will want to see this during or before your Supervised Release.

ALLOCUTION. You may begin by writing (in your own words) something like this…, “I am embarrassed and humbled to be standing here – since my indictment had the time to think about all that I have done, I didn’t recognize how BAD my decisions were, but Now I realized it’s Not About Me. It is about MY VICTIMS, What I did, and What I must do – to make it right. Please listen to this Short but direct YouTube.

Several memorable Statements/Allocutions that positively impacted these Judges,

  1. “No punishment will be enough. If I could go back and change everything, I would.”
  2. I am persuaded that the defendant is sincere and demonstrates insight into the crime.
  3. Allocution is very important, “I’d like to have a conversation with the defendant.” 
  4. I want him/her to apologize to the victim and their family, mainly if they are in the courtroom.
  5. “Allocution, however, changes this when I see the defendant has insight into the harm they have done,” when I see they have insight into this.”
  6. “I am looking for remorse and insight as to why he did what he did and what he is doing to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

As you stand at your sentencing hearing, nervous, anticipating the conversation with your Judge (your Allocution), you may also realize that writing your narrative has been an unexpectedly cathartic experience. Speaking from the heart could influence the court and ‘may’ impact your sentence…

CHARACTER REFERENCE LETTER. These are letters to one’s character; they know that you have broken the law and have known you for a long time. Should an employer be willing to write a letter that states they are still willing to rehire you after release from prison due to your ‘character and skills’ – that is a Great letter and should be included.

The ‘writer’ of a Character Letter states that they’ve known you for many years and are aware that you are in trouble and facing federal criminal charges and that you feel terrible about what you did.  “We went to college together, and this is so out of character,” and they know that you are so remorseful. Further, as someone who is close to you and part of your support system, they want to assure this court that the defendant won’t be back in front of this judge again because we will be looking out for them in the future and hold them accountable. The video is short but goes into the do’s and don’ts of what goes into a Character Letter. Also, a great Character letter may be a letter that includes that a person will be willing to rehire you after your release due to your character, knowledge, and skills. In this video, I lay out the “dos and don’ts” of what to include in Character Reference Letters.

NOW,are you Better Prepared to Speak to The Judge at Their Hearing Regarding…What is the ‘1’ Thing that Differentiates Them from Everyone Else entering their Judge’s Courtroom?