Is the BOP sending people in halfway houses back to prison because of calculation error in time credits awarded to prisoner for taking certain programs? Not right now. While the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) continues to make a disastrous mess of the First Step Act enacted by Congress in 2018 to help get non-violent offenders out of federal prison, the BOP has done all it can to keep its prisons full and staff earning their fat paychecks. Here’s another underhanded move by the BOP to do just that.
People released from federal prison recently and placed in a halfway house (or “Residential Re-Entry Center,” as the BOP likes to call it), were told by BOP and halfway house staff that they will be going back to prison because the BOP — yet again — changed its rules on how it calculates credit for extra time off for taking certain programs (often called FSA credits).
This freaked a lot of people out and former prisoners and their families inundated the BOP with phone calls to voice their fear of what negative impacts this would have. Apparently the BOP got sick of the phone calls and amended its rule to say that anyone in a halfway house or designated to one in the last two months would not be going back to, or staying in, prison.
December 18th will mark four years since Congress told the BOP to start implementing the First Step Act’s time credits and other features. To date, the BOP has dragged its feet so much that it seems this important Act by Congress won’t ever be fully implemented. Thankfully, action on the part of former prisoners and their families at least swayed the BOP to back down on its efforts to refill federal prisons and keep the federal payroll flowing.
Here’s the actual BOP memo handed out on October 14, 2022, regarding this change in calculating First Step Act time credits and how it affects those already in federal halfway houses and RRCs:
Dale Chappell is the author of hundreds of published articles on the federal criminal justice system, and the Insider`s Guide series of federal post-conviction books. He is a consultant in federal post-conviction procedure and an authority on federal sex offense issues.