An Increase in Federal Good Time Credit?


Every couple years, it seems, there is a new effort to implement a law that would allow federal inmates to earn more good-time credit, and thereby shorten their sentences. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, sponsored the latest effort, which was sent to the Judiciary Committee.

Under current law, a federal inmate receives up to 54 days off his sentence for good-time credit. This means BOP inmates serve about 85 percent of their actual sentences – a rate far higher than most state systems.

Chaffetz’ proposal would classify inmates based on a rate-of-recidivism scale and allow for different amounts of credit based on this categorization. A low-risk prisoner would be eligible for up to 30 days of credit for every month of successful participation in a “recidivism reduction program.” Medium-risk prisoners could get up to 15 days; high risk 8 days. People convicted of certain crimes – sex offenders, Armed Career Criminals, terrorist, etc. – would be ineligible.

The great thing about this proposal is that it would be in addition to rewards and incentives that are already in place. Therefore, it would appear, it does not adversely affect any prisoner.

Is Chaffez, a former BYU football player (actually a place kicker), pushing this bill because he’s an enlightened guy and he understands that federal sentences are way too long and they often fuel more crime and dysfunction in our society? I’m not sure. But I can tell you that he’s a budget hawk who probably realizes how much money can be saved by shortening federal sentences.

As we all know, getting a bill passed is no easy task. This one will be no different. Nonetheless, the time is right for something like this. It makes a lot of sense.