The quiet on the Federal Time Credits (FTC) front ended just over a week ago when newly appointed Director Peters appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. During her appearance she indicated the computer system integration to calculate FTC was finally implemented. This statement was a surprise for even the staff I spoke to inside because there had not been any internal notification memos at that point, however, things moved fast shortly after.
As this week progressed, I received numerous emails from people inside that their release date had been adjusted a full year. One person was given a calculation showing they had earned over 400 days pre-release custody in addition to the time they were already awarded for early release to supervision. That settled the question that pre-release custody is no longer limited to twelve months as authorized in the Second Chance Act.
On the negative side, I am also hearing about people that lost time as well which is a serious concern that I will address below. I even had a client on home detention scheduled to release his week who received notification from the BOP that their release date had changed because time credits were removed! That made me think about the initial implementation when people were awarded the full year but were telling me they did not complete any programs and minimal productive activities. My hypothesis is that once the system was functional, it simply calculated what time credits they actually earned and automatically removed the remainder. So much for computers and algorithms! However, like any system integration, I’m sure they will be working out the glitches in the next few weeks.
Last night, I came across some BOP related Facebook groups referring to this week as “The week from hell” for case managers and psychologists. Another person posted a picture of a dumpster fire and several people commented on credits being “given and taken away”! The most disturbing feedback I have been tracking as of late is the accuracy of the computer application itself. Without getting too technical, staff enter different programs and productive activities on more than one SENTRY computer transaction. People inside are questioning if it is even possible to track the actual hours completed for some of the activities and even some of the programs. I am going to be doing a deeper dive into this with a case management coordinator who retired a few months ago and is up to the minute on how the time is being tracked. Stay tuned.
The saga of the SPARC-13, Risk and Needs Assessment continues. A positive development is that the BOP has formally acknowledged the impact the failure to complete Trulincs assessments has on the application of time credits. They refer to it by saying the person has “Opted Out.” That is a nice way to say “Refusal” because that is the way it shows up on the Inmate Profile SENTRY transaction! I am going to assume a lot of people are going to be made aware of their refusals in the coming weeks given the system integration. There were tens of thousands of refusals in the system as recently as six months ago.
The FTC confusion will remain until the BOP approves the time credits policy that I have continually written about since it was circulated in 2019. For the prison policy geeks who read this, do not forget the policy on halfway houses has not been updated since before the Second Chance Act of 2007 and staff continue to quote parts of that policy that are simply not in accordance with the law. There is some light at the end of the tunnel to the extent that last month the DOJ- Inspector General issued a report (22-115 Evaluation of the Bureau of Prisons’ Policy Development Process) in an I told you moment, I had raised this very issue with the Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections in person many years ago. The BOP is not complying with their own policy on Directives Management which leads to confusion, inconsistent practices and transparency.
For those who have been denied FTC due to a detainer issue and want to read and cite an interesting case, check out: Dylan C. Jones v. Warden J. Engleman, Case No. 2:22-cv-05292-MCS-GJS. The full magistrate judge decision is most interesting.