FIRST STEP ACT

I) Infographic (above) – Glossary of Terms
II) Early Release: Minimum and Low-Risk Inmates
III) Alternative Benefits: Medium and High-Risk Inmates
IV) First Step Act Reforms
V) FSA Credits can begin on day one


This video overviews Early Release Options – Just don’t get disciplined.


 

EARNED TIME CREDITS (ETC)

10/27/2023 Update: FIVE YEARS LATER, BOP STILL DOESN’T HAVE FIRST STEP ACT CREDITS that predict when a prisoner will leave BOP custody for halfway house or home confinement (HH/HC).

PATTERN

Video 0.07 covers how the First Step Act should work and defines PATTERN (which identifies a person as a Minimum/Low or Medium/High),. The Medium/High can work alternative benefits. While the law was passed in 2018, and this note was made on 10/2023, whether due to COVID in 2019/2020, being short-staffed, the BOP Calculation of FSA ETC has yet to be corrected, DISAPPOINTMENT and FRUSTRATION are going to be a regular occurrence. Either way, I hope you find this PowerPoint informative.

EBRR and PA Programs

As of January 10, 2023, all federal prisoners will receive the updated computation dates for their (approximated) Earned Time Credits. This process should then update their monthly computation dates to reflect the status of Earned Time Credits.

  • BOP Policy Statement 5410.01 CN-2 (3/10/2023): Page 12: Case Manager and Unit Team referrals are needed to earn, ETC.
  • BOP Policy Statement 5400.01 (6/25/2021): Page 4: Unit Management is responsible for notifying each inmate of his or her targeted needs during routine program reviews at team meetings. Case Manager and Unit Team referrals are needed to earn, ETC.
  • *As soon as you can after entering prison, the first thing you do after finding the Computors is to TAKE YOUR ASSESSMENT SURVEY. Without that Assessment Survey, you can take the classes but likely will not earn the – Earned Time Credits.

If You Suspect You’re The Target of a Federal Investigation | Before The Presentence Interview (PSI) | After The PSI – But Before The Sentencing Hearing | or After Sentencing or You’re Already Incarcerated – There Are Still Things – At All Levels, We Can Do

Call 240.888.7778 for a personal one-on-one call
to discuss your current issue or that of a loved one.

-Marc Blatstein

We are not Attorneys; You Need Legal Representation.


“To earn FSA Time Credits – these four conditions must be met,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell(.Org)

  1. The program must be an EBRR programming or PA productive activity,
  2. The inmate must be assigned by Bureau staff to the EBRR programming or PA productive activity based on his criminogenic needs,
  3. The inmate must successfully complete the EBRR programming or PA, productive activity,
  4. The EBRR programming or PA, the productive activity must be completed on or after January 15, 2020.

12/18/2022 FTC, ETC Memo Released to inmates on BOP TRULINCS and to Unit Managers 


I) Early Release: Minimum and Low-Risk Inmates

Video 0.09 covers how the First Step Act is supposed to work and defines PATTERN (which identifies a person as a Minimum/Low), which can work toward Early release. While the law was passed in 2018, and this note was made on 10/2023, the BOP is still not calculating release dates as the law was intended. Whether due to COVID in 2019/2020, being short-staffed, or staff choosing to impute information or not, DISAPPOINTMENT and FRUSTRATION are mainstream. Either way, I hope you find this PowerPoint informative.

  1. You can earn up to 365 Days off your sentence in Earned Time Credits (ETC), with additional credits applied to time in either Halfway House or Home Confinement.
    • The Caveat: Don’t Get In Trouble No Infractions
    • Have a Great Release Plan, started Before your Presentence Interview (if possible)
  2. As soon as you arrive, locate the computers. Before meeting with your case manager and writing emails, take Your FSA Risk Assessment Survey.
    • No Survey – No Earned Time Credits.
  3. PATTERN: Men, Women; then Violent Additional Score Points
  4. Allows more time in a halfway house or home confinement at the end of a sentence.
  5. Eligible inmates can earn 10 to 15 days of EARNED TIME credits
    • for every 30 days of successful participation in EBRR and PA Activities. Jan 13, 2022 [BOP.gov]
  6. You may also receive five (5) additional days of time credit
    • for every 30 days of successful participation in EBRR/PA Programs if,
    • You have not increased the risk of recidivism over their last two assessments.
  7. You can apply your earned credits to pre-release custody or supervised release if you have the warden’s approval and 
    • You do not pose a danger to society.
    • Have made a good faith effort and a 30% lower risk of recidivism.
    • Are unlikely to recidivate.
  8. A Person is eligible for transfer to supervised release if,
    • You’ve met the standards above,
    • Supervised release is already part of their sentence as ordered by the court,
    • Are within 12 months of the end of their sentence, and either
      • do not pose a danger to society.
      • have made a good-faith effort to lower their risk of recidivism and
      • are unlikely to recidivate.

II) Alternative Benefits: Medium and High-Risk Inmates

This video overviews Alternative Benefits – Just don’t get disciplined.

Incentives for completing EBRR and PA Programs

1. They have to petition to redeem the Earn Time Credits (ETC) they earn,

  • Per the approval of the Warden  
    • The determination that they are not likely to re-offend or
    • They’re Not a Public Safety Threat.

2. Alternative Incentives

  • Up to 510 phone minutes per month (which prisoners must pay for) or,
  • If available, video conferencing privileges for up to 30 minutes per day.
  • Or the warden may
    • Add additional time for visits.
    • Add additional time using the BOP’s email system (which prisoners must pay for).
    • Transfer to a prison closer to the person’s home if the warden approves.
    • Increased commissary spending limits and product offerings (which prisoners must pay for).
    • Consideration for transfer to preferred housing units.

Those at Medium and/or High-Risk Levels should be able to move to a:

Low or Minimum risk by reducing their “Dynamic” Factors.

“Static” factors are fixed,

• Age at first conviction
• If the Current offense was violent
• If it was a Sex offense conviction
• Criminal history score
• History of violence
• History of escapes
• Was Voluntary surrender an option?

“Dynamic” factors can change throughout a person’s incarceration.

• Age at the time of assessment? (The older we get, the less we argue from the author…)
• Infraction convictions (any)
• Infraction convictions (serious and violent)
• Number of programs completed (how many)
• Number of technical or vocational courses completed (how many)
• Drug treatment while incarcerated – if needed?
• Drug education while incarcerated – if needed?


III) First Step Act Reforms

  1. Who Is Disqualified from Participating?
    • State borders
    • Military prisoners
    • Violent convictions
    • Inmates pending deportation
    • Convictions in DC Superior Court

For Table: Violent Offense Codes for PATTERN Risk Assessment(BOP)

    • For a more detailed list of Disqualifying Offenses (BOP),
    • Serving a sentence for a conviction previously under the First Step Act may disqualify inmates from earning credit.
  1. The Definition of “A Day”
    • A calendar day is when the person participates in assigned programming on that date.
      • Is completion of an EBRR or PA program required – No.
    • Times when a person cannot be considered a successful participant(Famm)
      • When they’re in the SHU.
      • On designated status outside the BOP facility (for example, extended medical placement, court appearances, furlough).
      • On a writ or temporary transfer to the custody of another federal or nonfederal government agency.
      • On a mental health hold; or
      • Who declines to participate in the recommended EBRR or PA Program.

IV) FSA Credits can begin on day one

  • Another reason is that PSRs are a proactive placement tool for those with long sentences.

1. The BOP Risk and Needs Assessment System

  • Assessing the recidivism risk and criminogenic needs of all federal prisoners and 
  • Then, they place prisoners in recidivism-reducing programs (EBRR) and productive activities (PA) that address their individual needs to reduce this risk.
  • Examples of recidivism risk and criminogenic needs: Anger/Hostility – Antisocial Peers – Cognitions – Dyslexia – Education – Family/Parenting – Finance, Poverty – Medical – Mental Health – Recreation/Leisure/Fitness – Substance Abuse – Trauma, and Work. 

2. Other Sentencing Reforms(USSC – 2019)

  • Mandatory Minimum Sentences (Page 2, 2019) (where applicable)
    • A defendant who previously would have been sentenced to 20 years might now face 15 years.
    • The new law also gives judges greater discretion to ignore the Mandatory Minimum.
  • Expanding the Safety Valve (Page 3, 2019)
    • The FSA also expands the safety valve provision, allowing courts to sentence low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with minor criminal histories to less than the required minimum for an offense.
  • Pre-release placement refers to:
    • Home confinement and/or,
    • Halfway house (also known as Residential Reentry Center (RRC)
  • The Second Look Act
    • For those who committed a crime before the age of 25 and
    • Who has served a minimum of 15 years in prison,
    • They can apply to the DC Superior Court to have their sentence reviewed. 
  • For those who participated in The FSA 12/21/2018 – 1/14/2020.
    • Those credits are being awarded retroactively.
  • Retroactive Application of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Section 404 (Page 4, 2019)
  • Loss of FSA Time Credits (DOJ-BOP).  
    • Inmates found guilty of misconduct may not earn incentives for the time periods listed below.
    • The time periods below will begin the day after the Unit Disciplinary Committee or the Disciplinary Hearing Officer finds that the inmate has committed the prohibited act(s).
      • 120 days for a 100 Series incident report. 
      • 90 days for a 200 Series incident report.
      • 60 days for a 300 Series incident report.
      • 30 days for a 400 Series incident report.

For additional information, contact the Reentry Services Division (RSD) by email: BOP-RSD-NRB-FSA@BOP.GOV.


Call 240.888.7778 for a personal one-on-one call
to discuss your current issue or that of a loved one.

-Marc Blatstein