LERA (Federal Good Time Bill) Update

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) has agreed to sponsor a federal bill, LERA, that would substantially increase good time for federal prisoners. His office sent out this progress report today, which we received from the Federal Prison Policy Project with permission to reprint:

Mr. Scott has agreed to develop and introduce a bill based on the concepts in what is referred to as LERA (Literacy, Education and Rehabilitation Act). This bill would establish a good conduct credit system in the federal prison system which would provide for credit classifications of 15 days for every 30 days served for exemplary performance, 10 for 30 for satisfactory performance, 5 for 30 for marginal performance in programs or work assignments, with no credits while in disciplinary or segregation status. Sentences would be reduced by the number of credit days accumulated.

The bill is currently being drafted by the office that does legislative drafts for the Congress and we are likely to have a draft completed by the second week in December. Sometime around the first of the year, the bill will be circulated to House Member offices to offer them an opportunity to cosponsor it. The bill will likely be filed sometime in late January or early February after Members return for the 2nd Session of this Congress.

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Anyone interested in the bill should understand that thousands of bills are filed in Congress each year. All are referred to the Committee or subcommittee of jurisdiction, but very few get consideration such as hearings or legislative markups. If the level of support among the Members and the Congressional leadership necessary for this bill to move through the House can be developed, it will likely require several years to get to that point. This is what we saw with the "Prison Rape Elimination Act" (recently enacted into law after 4 years of development of support) and the "Innocence Protection Act" (5 years to pass the House and now awaiting Senate action). There will likely be opponents of the bill who will view it as shortening the sentences of violent, drug and sex offenders whose sentences they are working to increase.

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