Bureau of Prisons May Recommend More Good Time Credit
For years, there have been rumors that Congress might increase good time credit for federal inmates. None have come to pass.
There is no parole in the federal system. The amount of good time is the same for everyone -- 54 days a year after the first year.
Sentencing Law and Policy reports that one of the speakers at the Sentencing Commission's hearings last week was Bureau of Prisons Director Harley Lappin. After discussing how overcrowded our prisons are, and what can be done to alleviate it, he said that the Justice Department is working with Congress on two proposals. The first would increase the good time from 54 days a year to 61 days (not much of a change.) The second proposal is more promising: [More...]
The second proposal creates a new sentence reduction credit that inmates can earn for successful participation in recidivism-reducing programs, such as Federal Prison Industries, education, and occupational/vocational programming.
Mr. Lapin's statement is here.
He provides these statistics:
As the nation’s largest corrections system, the Bureau is responsible for the incarceration of about 210,000 inmates. Currently, the Bureau confines more than 171,000 inmates in 116 facilities with a total rated capacity of 126,971. The remainder, more than 18 percent, are housed in privately operated prisons, residential reentry centers, and local jails. In fiscal year 2009, a net growth of 7,091 new inmates was realized and an additional 1,468 inmates were added in fiscal year 2010. An increase of approximately 5,000-6,000 inmates per year is expected for fiscal year 2011 and fiscal year 2012.
Most of the inmates in Bureau facilities are serving sentences for drug trafficking offenses. The remainder of the population includes inmates convicted of weapons, immigration law, violent, fraud, property, sex, and other miscellaneous offenses. The average sentence length for inmates in Bureau custody is 10 years. Approximately 7 percent of inmates in the Bureau are women, and approximately 26 percent of the Federal prison population are non-U.S. citizens.
System-wide, the Bureau is operating at 35 percent over its rated capacity. Crowding is of special concern at higher security facilities with 50 percent crowding at high security facilities and 39 percent at medium security facilities. This severe crowding has resulted in double and triple bunking inmates. As of January 2011, 94 percent of high security inmates were double bunked, and 16 percent of medium security inmates and almost 82 percent of low security inmates were triple bunked or housed in space not originally designed for inmate housing.
45,000 federal inmates a year are released. Most need to acquire job skills, vocational training, education, counseling, and other assistance (such as drug abuse treatment, anger management, and parenting skills) before they return. BOP controls the programs made available to inmates.
40% of federal inmates arrive with a substance abuse problem. BOP now has 4 treatment programs. One, the RDAP program, is residential and allows inmates who complete it to receive up to a year off their sentence. But it hasn't been widely available. Now, Lappin says, 61 federal prisons and 1 contract prison have RDAP programs. Lappin says:
Inmates who participate in residential drug abuse programming are 16% less likely to recidivate and 15% less likely to relapse when compared with similar non-participating inmates. The President’s budget request for fiscal year 2012 includes funding to increase the residential drug abuse program significantly.
As to educational programs:
Institutions offer literacy classes, English as a Second Language, adult continuing education, parenting classes, recreation activities, wellness education, and library services. We also facilitate vocational training and occupationally-oriented higher education programs that are based on the needs of the specific institution’s inmate population, general labor market conditions, and institution labor force needs.
The result? Lappin says:
Inmates who participate in educational programs are 16% less likely to recidivate than similar non-participating inmates, and those who participate in vocational or occupational training are 33% less likely to recidivate than similar non-participating inmates.
|< Libya: Not As Bad As The Iraq Debacle; Dems: Not As Bad As Republicans | Monday Night Open Thread >|