« Notable comments on drug sentencing policies from rival Senate candidates in Pennsylvania | Main | Half dozen GVRs provide only "excitement" for CJ fans in latest SCOTUS order list »

October 16, 2022

Another discouraging dispatch about BOP's shaky First Step Act steps

Walter Palvo continues to provide terrific coverage of difficulties in the implementation of the First Step Act's earned time credits, and this latest piece in Forbes is titled "Bureau Of Prisons’ Failure To Communicate First Step Act."  Here are excerpts from this lengthy piece that merits a full read:

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is under new leadership but it is still suffering from decades of mismanagement. BOP Director Colette Peters began work on August 2nd of this year ... [and] testified on September 29, 2022 in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.... Senator Dick Durbin was frustrated in Peters’ testimony stating that the full effects of FSA had not been implemented nearly 4 years after it being signed into law.  Peters assured the Senators that an auto-calculator was completed in August 2022 that provided FSA credits to prisoners which had the effect of reducing many sentences.  However, that auto-calculator was not in place at the time of the hearing, or at least it was not communicated to prisoners or the public. 

According to dozens of prisoners I interviewed for this piece, calculations were not communicated to them nor reflected on BOP.gov, which tracks release dates for federal prisoners.  Anticipating this computer program’s rollout that would reduce many prisoner release dates, prisoners and their families eagerly awaited the news of when they would be going home.  As the weeks passed after after August, prisoners still had no news.  It was not until the week of October 3rd that FSA credits started to be applied.  As one prisoner told me, “I was expecting a year of credits and I got 4 months. I have no idea what happened.”

What happened is that the calculator still has errors in it.  Prisoners who were transferred to a halfway house after receiving an interim calculation of their sentence, were called in and told they would be returning to prison after the new calculation took away their year....

Prisoners have worked for years to take programming that the FSA law stated would earn them credits.  Now, as implemented, those credits are fewer than many thought and they still do not have answers.  They also have no realistic remedy to correct it in a timely manner.  Millions of dollars will now be spent on litigation that will last years while prisoners who should be released stay in prison.

Some prior related posts:

October 16, 2022 at 03:00 PM | Permalink

Comments

The problem with the BOP is simple. Their sole purpose is to keep inmates in prison. Letting inmates out early is counterproductive to the Bureau's sole purpose.

Paralegal - former federal prisoner that served 20+ years in custody

Posted by: Dave Allen | Oct 17, 2022 12:37:47 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB