I thought my recent “tongue in cheek” comments submitted to the Federal Register on the First Step Act pre-release time credits would suffice for a new prison reform rant! I could write a book on the flaws of the back end provisons of the First Step Act but this sums up a few main points. I highly doubt they will adress it publically, but they have addressed some of my other observations in the past that were of a less sarcastic nature……….Enjoy

Responding to:   Federal Register :: FSA Time Credits

“I would need to write a dissertation to identify the numerous flaws in this poorly written legislation. While the First Step Act (FSA) good time credits are referred to as “pre-release” credits rather than statutory good time, that is simply semantics.  Historically, credits have been awarded equally to ALL people not the chosen few who fit a politically correct narrative of “non-violent”.  This law simply is discriminatory and convoluted.  People are sentenced based on the severity of their crime and history and should be treated equally upon incarceration. Under the old law, SRA, VCCLEA and PLRA, all people could earn time credits. 

From the very start, there are numerous deficiencies in the PATTERN risk assessment. I would hope the IRC (read their 12/21/20 report) will comment on the methodology of PATTERN. People of color will predominantly be denied early release based on ineligibility and the false incentives they can purportedly earn will not be realized given the discretion the BOP has to honor them, not to mention the BOP infrastructure and lack of funding will make them virtually impossible to realize for many.  

The BOP already has policy to determine crimes of violence , Program Statement # 5162.5, Categorization of Offenses which is different criteria than the law.  That also makes it difficult to implement.  

White collar people will who present a different threat to the community but considered “non-violent” will disproportionately benefit and manipulate program placement while people of color will remain in prison.   

The BOP philosophy is not to rely on single magic program but a comprehensive program plan developed at initial classification. Everyone has different needs and ALL people who simply follow their program plan, regardless if it has been identified as an EBRRP should be rewarded equally.  Violence is simply a misnomer because a young adult who committed one act in the community decades ago is labeled for life while a white-collar person who will steal the last penny of an elderly widow the day they release is “non-violent”.   

The simple solution to this all along was simply re-instate the “old law” statutory and extra good time system, which is fair to all, understood by the agency, within the SENTRY computer data base, has coherent written policy and effectuates release at approximately 2/3 of the sentence if all the available good time is maximized. The wheel did not need to be created by politicians who simply have no clue about prison.   The implementation of this as written will ensure litigation for decades to come.   

The people who wrote this part of the legislation should be charged with a crime (in my humble opinion). I will stop there.  “