The big news this week was the announcement to the end of the national emergency for Covid-19 declared by President Biden over thirty-five months ago. The timing was interesting as it comes just over a month after the BOP updated their CARES ACT Home Detention criteria. While there was not much new in the criteria, it clarified the 25% & 50 % eligibility issue. From my perspective, the preceding memo from April 2021, was broad and inconsistently applied around the country regarding the eligibility timeframes. The previous memo listed the eligibility percentages of the “sentence;” while the updated memo distinctly lists the “statutory sentence”. Further, the memo also indicates a further distinction that the FSA/FTC (time credits) do not apply in the eligibility determination. I might look at these issues from a very micro perspective, but most facilities thus far have interpreted the eligibility as the entire sentence (ie:50 % of a 10-year sentence equals 5-year eligibility). Based on the new memorandum, it’s clear that the eligibility of a 10-year sentence would be a percentage of 8.5 years, the statutory release date (i.e.: full term minus good conduct time).
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most BOP case managers are unaware of that distinction because at just about every institution I deal with; the head in the sand mentality is ever present. I strongly suggest any person who is near to serving the statutory 25/25 percent eligibility request (via electronic cop out) as to the status of their referral. If the statutory eligibility percentage has already been served, my contention is that you have been denied program participation and a formal administrative be filed immediately. Be aware the percentage itself is not statutory, so there is nothing prohibiting the case manager from submitting a referral earlier, especially considering it could take months to process. It’s too soon to determine how much longer the BOP will continue to process CARES ACT referrals but getting something established on the record might give one cover should an eligible person not have been “automatically” reviewed when they were eligible under the established criteria! Stay tuned as I am sure another internal BOP Central Office memo will be leaked or release by FOIA which leads me to another broader prison reform related issue.
When the BOP was a professional organization, major changes in policy and process were communicated to staff and the public in accordance with Program Statement 1221.1, Directive Management Manual. This policy requires major policy and process changes to be communicated by “Operations Memoranda” and “Change Notices.” This formal process provides transparency and consistency compared to the BOP’s recent governance by internal memoranda which lead to inconsistency, confusion plus it allows seedy prison consultants to prey on the incarcerated and their families. For those who follow these micro issues religiously, there have been many internal RRC memos issued over the years because the policy on halfway houses, Program Statement 7310.04 CCC Utilization and Transfer Procedures has not been updated since prior to the Second Chance Act of 2007. Sad but true! The DOJ-IG recently chastised the BOP for their dysfunctional policy process (Report Number 22-115) but did not bring attention to this specific issue. Many years ago, the BOP underwent a governmental reduction in paperwork and process review (aka: REDMAP) but the reduction process did not allow the agency to abdicate their responsibility for adhering to the Directive Management Manual.
On the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP) front; I’m sure most people are aware the BOP recently posted an extremely draconian rule in the Federal Register for comment because they were embarrassed when the Washington Post exposed the failure of the agency to develop an appropriate payment plan for a high-profile figure. I’m going to go out on another limb here and say there will be extreme public outcry against much of the proposal and the BOP will back off to some degree. However, the damage will already be done. There is nothing stopping anyone from writing a comment for the public record and have it posted on the Federal Register website at: www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/01/10/2023-0024/inmate-financial-responsiblity-program-procedures. Incarcerated people can send comments to their family with Corrlinks and they can cut and paste it to the above website address.
Lastly, the latest patch to the FTC (time credit) application was yet again a disaster. I have talked to several case managers who feel it is still an inaccurate accounting of earned time credits. It is important to obtain a sentence computation in February and compare it to the new form created with the application called the FSA- Time Credits Assessment Form.