Tag Archives: FIRST STEP act

Inside Info

COVID-19 entered the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons without chains or restraints in early 2020. Since then the United States Attorney General ordered the BOP to place more inmates on home confinement to reduce the risk of exposure to vulnerable inmates but judges ordered the release of more of the incarcerated than the BOP.

As is normal for the Backwards On Purpose agency, very few inmates at risk were placed on home confinement, many who have now died because of the incompetence of their keepers.

Several of my incarcerated subscribers expressed concerns over the lack of response by BOP officials to protect them from contracting the virus. I sent in copies of memorandums and reported claims presented to the public about all that the BOP was doing to comply with CDC guidelines to prevent/control the spread of COVID-19.

Numerous subscribers responded and stated that the information was all lies, that staff wasn’t wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves, even while feeding the meals, some openly coughing while serving food. Various media sources reported staff complaints about not having PPE and feeling at risk because of the lack of PPE and mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic inside the confines of the BOP.

BOP officials basically ignored Attorney General Barr’s instruction to release more inmates on home confinement. That is the same behavior as BOP officials had displayed when eligible prisoners were dying inside the system, rather than being released, when Congress urged the BOP to expand their Compassionate Release program, long before COVID-19 kicked in the doors and began taking the lives of the captives.

The BOP changed the controlling policy but did not change their practices. The latest revision of the Compassionate Release program statement is as follows:

Policy Statement NUMBER 5050.50
DATE January 17, 2019,
Compassionate Release/Reduction in Sentence: Procedures for Implementation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 3582 and 4205(g)

That is the same BS mentality of the BOP officials, who did modify the Compassionate Release/Reduction in Sentence program statement but did not follow its guidance, which has now lead to the deaths of over 105 of their captives and the infection of several thousand.

Court officials have often stepped in and ordered the release of ill prisoners the BOP had refused to release, since Congress also passed into la the First Step Act that gave the federal courts jurisdiction (the power to act) to intervene when petitioners filed claims to challenge the denial of their request for compassionate release.

Prior to about 2016, the courts were powerless because the governing statutes gave the final say to BOP officials, the same ones who take an oath to keep men and women inside prisons for the duration of the given sentences, until death do they part.

(Because it is not relevant to this blog and is information easily found by those reading this online, I won’t list articles or sources of information on the above content.)

INFORMATION FOR THE INCARCERATED

I am concluding this blog with some of the actual information I sent in to my subscribers on August 1, 2020 (I send in a variety of information but COVID-19 reports are now regular based upon popular demand).

Because of limits in Corrlinks (see Corrlinks Process on this website), I have to modify the information I collect from the BOP website and other sources to make content Corrlinks’ friendly. With this post, I sent the content inside in two parts because it wouldn’t fit into one email.

The information-starved, incarcerated individuals, often express gratitude for the content I send in free of charge to keep them informed about what is going on outside of their restricted environments. I am happy to be of service to those I sympathize with because of my history on the Inside.

08/03/2020: If viewing the following on a cellphone, the landscape view corrects data shown in what may be distorted rows and columns. I apologize for the inconvenience.

August 1, 2020, COVID-19 Update

Confirmed active cases at 106 BOP facilities and 43 Residential Reentry Centers (No RRCs included in this report)

https://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/

08/01/2020 – The BOP has 128,595 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,806 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 2,308 federal inmates and 503 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 8,253 inmates and 708 staff have recovered. There have been 105 federal inmate deaths and 1 BOP staff member death attributed to COVID-19 disease. Of the inmate deaths, 4 occurred while on home confinement.

[To read numbers: the left column under the facility is Inmate confirmed cases (I), next is Staff (S), the third from left is Inmate Deaths (ID), the fourth column is Staff Deaths (SD); the fifth column is Inmates Recovered (IR) and the last Staff Recovered (SR).

Facility   I.P.      S.P.     I.D.     S.D.    I.R.      S.R.       City       State

Butner Low FCI  77         2          16         1          575       14         Butner   NC

Seagoville FCI    549       12         3          0          769       14         Seagoville         TX

Carswell FMC     244       2          3          0          296       1          Fort Worth        TX

Coleman Low FCI           174       19         0          0          4          2          Sumterville        FL

Coleman Medium FCI     129       29         1          0          11         0          Sumterville        FL

Miami FCI          95         23         0          0          3          0          Miami   FL

Miami FDC        86         15         1          0          1          20         Miami   FL

Victorville Medium I FCI  78         7          0          0          71         0          Victorville          CA

Butner Low FCI  75         1          16         1          575       15         Butner   NC

Marion USP       71         1          0          0          4          2          Marion  IL

Edgefield FCI     65         20         0          0          0          1          Edgefield          SC

Elkton FCI          63         2          9          0          938       51         Lisbon   OH

Victorville Medium II FCI 48         8          0          0          2          2          Victorville          CA

Victorville USP   46         12         0          0          46         1          Victorville          CA

Forrest City Low FCI       38         3          0          0          641       4          Forrest City        AR

Beaumont Low FCI         35         1          0          0          469       0          Beaumont          TX

Lewisburg USP   35         0          0          0          0          1          Lewisburg         PA

Coleman I USP   28         23         0          0          0          2          Sumterville        FL

Loretto FCI        19         6          0          0          8          1          Loretto  PA

Yazoo City USP  18         7          1          0          56         12         Yazoo City         MS

Oklahoma City FTC        16         5          1          0          85         0          Oklahoma City   OK

Beaumont Medium FCI   15         6          0          0          45         0          Beaumont          TX

Guaynabo MDC 15         0          0          0          0          0          Guaynabo         PR

Tucson FCI         15         6          0          0          0          1          Tucson  AZ

Manchester FCI  14         9          0          0          33         0          Manchester       KY

Three Rivers FCI 11         0          0          0          79         0          Three Rivers      TX

Forrest City Medium FCI 9          10         0          0          3          5          Forrest City        AR

San Diego MCC 9          1          0          0          2          0          San Diego         CA

Fairton FCI         8          0          0          0          95         7          Fairton  NJ

Fort Worth FMC 8          8          12         0          579       6          Fort Worth        TX

Lompoc USP      7          0          2          0          164       24         Lompoc CA

New York MCC  7          5          0          0          16         41         New York          NY

Tallahassee FCI  7          8          0          0          0          1          Tallahassee       FL

Atlanta USP       6          8          0          0          14         8          Atlanta  GA

Butner FMC       6          2          0          0          5          13         Butner   NC

Talladega FCI     6          6          0          0          2          7          Talladega          AL

Englewood FCI   5          0          0          0          4          1          Littleton             CO

Houston FDC     5          5          0          0          7          0          Houston            TX

Aliceville FCI      4          8          0          0          10         9          Aliceville            AL

Bastrop FCI        4          5          0          0          0          2          Bastrop TX

Jesup FCI           4          16         1          0          252       3          Jesup    GA

Oakdale I FCI     4          8          7          0          206       20         Oakdale            LA

Atwater USP      3          6          0          0          0          3          Atwater CA

Memphis FCI     3          2          0          0          6          12         Memphis           TN

Pollock FCI        3          2          0          0          0          1          Pollock  LA

Pollock USP       3          9          0          0          0          2          Pollock  LA

Springfield MCFP           3          1          0          0          1          0          Springfield        MO

Terminal Island FCI         3          5          10         0          645       17         San Pedro         CA

Beaumont USP  2          3          0          0          0          1          Beaumont          TX

Bennettsville FCI            2          7          0          0          7          5          Bennettsville      SC

Butner Medium I FCI      2          2          9          0          202       30         Butner   NC

Florence FCI      2          1          0          0          0          3          Florence            CO

Fort Dix FCI       2          0          0          0          37         5          Joint Base Mdl   NJ

Los Angeles MDC          2          3          0          0          2          2          Los Angeles       CA

Milan FCI           2          1          3          0          98         55         Milan    MI

Sheridan FCI      2          0          0          0          0          0          Sheridan           OR

Waseca FCI        2          2          0          0          2          0          Waseca MN

Allenwood Low FCI        1          0          0          0          0          0          Allenwood         PA

Berlin FCI           1          0          0          0          0          0          Berlin    NH

Chicago MCC    1          5          0          0          138       26         Chicago IL

Danbury FCI      1          2          1          0          89         61         Danbury            CT

Devens FMC      1          1          2          0          50         6          Ayer      MA

Dublin FCI         1          3          0          0          0          3          Dublin   CA

Greenville FCI    1          4          0          0          1          0          Greenville          IL

Herlong FCI       1          0          0          0          0          3          Herlong CA

Honolulu FDC    1          0          0          0          0          0          Honolulu           HI

La Tuna FCI        1          5          0          0          0          7          Anthony            TX

Leavenworth USP           1          1          0          0          0          5          Leavenworth      KS

Marianna FCI     1          7          0          0          0          1          Marianna          FL

McCreary USP   1          3          0          0          1          2          Pine Knot          KY

Montgomery FPC           1          1          0          0          0          2          Montgomery     AL

Otisville FCI       1          1          0          0          26         14         Otisville NY

Pekin FCI           1          0          0          0          0          0          Pekin    IL

Philadelphia FDC            1          2          0          0          3          3          Philadelphia       PA

Phoenix FCI       1          5          0          0          19         9          Phoenix AZ

Sandstone FCI    1          0          0          0          0          0          Sandstone         MN

Schuylkill FCI     1          0          0          0          0          0          Minersville         PA

SeaTac FDC       1          1          0          0          0          0          Seattle  WA

Williamsburg FCI            1          4          0          0          0          0          Salters  SC

Yazoo City Medium FCI  1          5          0          0          7          10         Yazoo City         MS

Allenwood Medium FCI  0          0          0          0          0          1          White Deer        PA

Allenwood USP  0          1          0          0          0          1          Allenwood         PA

Ashland FCI       0          0          0          0          0          1          Ashland KY

Beckley FCI        0          0          0          0          0          1          Beaver  WV

Big Sandy USP   0          2          0          0          0          0          Inez      KY

Big Spring FCI    0          6          0          0          0          0          Big Spring         TX

Brooklyn MDC   0          1          0          0          12         41         Brooklyn           NY

Bryan FPC          0          2          0          0          1          0          Bryan    TX

Butner Medium II FCI     0          1          0          0          3          1          Butner   NC

Canaan USP       0          0          0          0          0          4          Waymart           PA

Coleman II USP  0          14         0          0          2          2          Sumterville        FL

Cumberland FCI 0          0          0          0          6          5          Cumberland     

08/01/2020 Part II

Duluth FPC        0          0          0          0          1          0          Duluth   MN

El Reno FCI        0          6          0          0          1          1          El Reno OK

Estill FCI            0          10         0          0          0          0          Estill      SC

Gilmer FCI         0          0          0          0          5          0          Glenville            WV

Hazelton FCI      0          3          0          0          0          2          Bruceton Mills   WV

Hazelton USP    0          5          0          0          0          5          Bruceton Mills   WV

Lee USP 0          1          0          0          0          1          Pennington Gap VA

Lexington FMC  0          0          8          0          227       11         Lexington          KY

Lompoc FCI       0          1          2          0          809       16         Lompoc CA

McDowell FCI    0          0          0          0          0          2          Welch   WV

Mendota FCI      0          6          0          0          1          3          Mendota           CA

Morgantown FCI            0          0          0          0          0          1          Morgantown     WV

Oakdale II FCI    0          8          1          0          7          6          Oakdale            LA

Oxford FCI         0          3          0          0          1          1          Oxford  WI

Pensacola FPC   0          2          0          0          0          1          Pensacola          FL

Petersburg Low FCI        0          0          0          0          0          2          Hopewell           VA

Ray Brook FCI    0          0          0          0          12         10         Ray Brook         NY

Rochester FMC  0          1          0          0          0          1          Rochester          MN

Safford FCI        0          2          0          0          0          0          Safford AZ

Terre Haute FCI  0          0          0          0          1          2          Terre Haute       IN

Terre Haute USP            0          0          1          0          8          0          Terre Haute       IN

Texarkana FCI    0          3          0          0          0          2          Texarkana         TX

Thomson USP    0          0          0          0          3          1          Thomson           IL

Tucson USP       0          4          0          0          0          2          Tucson  AZ

Yazoo City Low FCI         0          4          2          0          96         9          Yazoo City         MS

Private Facilities

Privately-managed prisons are secure institutions operated by private companies under contract and oversight of the BOP. The majority of federal inmates in private prisons are sentenced criminal aliens who will be deported upon completion of their sentence. Unlike federal inmates housed in BOP facilities, the contractor is responsible for the medical care and the costs associated with providing those services.

The BOP has 14,610 inmates in Privately-Managed Facilities. There are 101 inmates who have open lab-confirmed positive cases. 310 inmates have recovered. Full breakdown and additional details are below:

Facility                IP          ID         IR         City       State

D. Ray James CI 73         0          12         Folkston            GA

Great Plains CI   12         1          85         Hinton   OK

Giles W. Dalby CI           10         1          72         Post      TX

Rivers CI            4          0          20         Winton  NC

McRae CI          2          1          14         Mcrae Helena    GA

North Lake CI    0          2          107       Baldwin MI

All inmates are being appropriately treated and isolated per CDC guidelines.

Fight for Change

Rep. Trey Gowdy(R-SC) speaks during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on March 20, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
/ AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Congressperson Trey Gowdy Chaired the Oversight Committee on the Bureau of Prisons, December 13, 2017.

The then B.O.P. Director, Mark S. Inch, had made changes to the program for operation of the Residential Reentry Centers. His changes resulted in me receiving 119-days in an RRC, instead of the 364-days recommended by my Unit Team because I had been in prison for three decades and needed the additional time to readjust to society.

I fought for change and after Mark Inch resigned, as I wrote about in War and Reentry, my Unit Team resubmitted me for more halfway house placement time because I won an issue on the miscalculation of Good Conduct Time that reduced my outdate.

https://straightfromthepen.com/2018/06/04/war-and-reentry/

My situation showed the RRC decision made by Mark Inch conflicted with Congressional directives and would put society in harm’s way, contrary to the purpose and intent of the Second Chance Act of 2007.

I did not hesitate to seek administrative redress and to write letters to Director Inch and Congressperson, Trey Gowdy (R-SC).

The following are copies of the imperfect letters I sent, with all of the supporting documents I sent along with each of the two letters. I am presenting them to show that it helps to voice opinions and to stand up for what we believe.

I believed Mark Inch’s change in policy screwed me and thousands of other prisoners. I fought for those who could not, would not, or did not, fight for themselves. I was near the door either way but I saw the devastating effect of the new RRC policy and it really pissed me off; especially, after I received 119-days in an RRC that made me think of telling them to keep.

[I struggled with getting the letters converted into a format to use for posting in this blog. The content remained the same. Maybe their content will help energize the fight for Criminal Justice and Prison Reform.]

[Note: Letters replaced with better image: Other Documents Will Be Added.]

Signature and Supporting Documents Not Included/Removed

Signature and Supporting Documents Not Included/Removed

Save Millions: Letter to Former B.O.P. Director

The following is a scrap copy of a letter I referred to above in the March 5, 2018, letter to former B.O.P. Director, Mark S. Inch, where I showed how to save millions of dollars each year. I included a copy of both letters with the letter mailed to Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) .

T

Politics: Letter to Representative Doug Collins (R-GA)

The First Step Act: Before Passed Into Law

The following letter I sent by certified mail to the Honorable Doug Collins (R-GA), and to the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), whom I do appreciate and respect for submitting the First Step Act. Though, neither of whom showed the courtesy of a reply or acknowledgment of receipt, due, in part, I suspect as due to a concern about what their peers may think of their communication with a convicted felon.

Proof of Mailing

Proof of Mailing

On Politics

Please forgive my frankness, which does not apply to all politicians, because some are courageous men and women, but in my opinion, most politicians lack in courage and are political whores, who dance to the tune of their parties, rather than to stand up as men and women for the issues that got them voted into office.

BREAKING NEWS

trump and kim

I have good and bad Breaking News. First, I commend President Trump for commuting the life sentence of Alice M. Johnson, a 63-year old grandmother trapped in the federal prison system for 21-years. The lovely Kim Kardashian West interceded on her behalf to President Trump.

Ms. Johnson was not a small-time drug dealer, but … 21-years is enough time in prison for anyone to serve who did not commit mass murders or horrendous crimes.

Now, if President Trump wants to save American taxpayers millions of dollars, he’ll instruct the Attorney General to order the BOP to reinterpret 18 U.S.C., Section 3624 to give federal prisoners the 54-days Congress provided for in the statute (see “INCREDIBLE NUMBERS FOR SEVEN DAYS”).

Other good news is that I succeeded at obtaining WorkKeys Platinum Certification to increase my chance of finding gainful employment upon release: More on that in a moment.

The bad news is that a nine-year study on recidivism was released in May 2018 that showed 83% of released prisoners from 30-states were re-arrested at least once during the study period. I’ll write more on that one, too!

MORE OF THE GOOD NEWS: In “Uncivil Wars” (08/17/17) and in “A Job Affair” (10/03/17), I listed what my ACT WorkKeys Skill Report showed for each of the three ACT skill levels. I scored in the Platinum range for two of the three categories.  The Gold Certification I received was because of the Level 5 score in the Locating Information category (I needed one more correct answer to score as a Level 6), so that’s why I wanted to try again.

During the September 29, 2017, Mock Job Fair, the representative from the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department strongly suggested I retake the test because I was so close, and because only six percent of students receive the Platinum certification. I followed her advice.

CHANGES: Since I took the ACT tests in August 2017, WorkKeys changed their testing and scoring system. The Levels for Locating Information ranged from 3-to-6. When retested, I learned that Locating Information was replaced with Graphic Literacy.  Students may now score up to a Level-7 in Graphic Literacy, the same as with Applied Mathematics and Reading for Information (also changed). The change made sense and made the testing more consistent.

This is from my ACT WorkKeys Skill Report:

WorkKeys Graphic Literacy:

You scored at Level 6.  People who score at Level 6 have demonstrated all of the Levels 3, 4, and 5 skills. They also demonstrated, using graphics designed at the highly complex level, the following skills:

* Locate information in a graphic using information found in another graphic

* Compare two or more pieces of information

* Identify a trend/pattern/relationship

* Make an inference or decision

* Identify the graphic that accurately represents the data

Additionally, using graphics designed at the high-moderate level, they have demonstrated the following skills:

* Compare two or more trends/patterns/relationships

* Interpret a trend/pattern/relationship

* Make a reasonable inference or decision based on one graphic after finding information in another graphic

* Justify an inference or decision based on information

* Identify the most effective graphic given a defined purpose

* Justify the most effective graphic given a defined purpose

[End Quote] In Graphic Literacy and Applied Mathematics, my scale scores were 82. I did best at Reading for Information (Level 7, scale score of 87).

The above results show 1) I’m capable of interpreting data presented in recidivism studies that rely on graphs and complex data, and 2), I’m qualified to perform mathematical analysis to solve complex problems.

CONFESSION: I failed to perform to my fullest potential when writing “War & Reentry.”

A reader said I was unclear when writing about recidivism numbers and studies. Upon review, I saw I erred in comparison of recidivism numbers relied on by ex-director, Mark Inch. I wrote that he was wrong by stating federal prisoners recidivated at half the rate of state prisoners.

I was incorrect in one sense: If non-citizens were included into the federal study, the numbers would be much different; however, that is not the case. I used an incorrect formula to present the argument. The actual numbers were 67.8% for state prisoners, compared to 33.7% for federal prisoners rearrested within 3-years of release.

If 68-state prisoners and 34-federal prisoners were rearrested after their release during the same study period, the statement by Mark Inch would be true.

THE FACTS prove the statement untrue because the Feds released and deported thousands of illegal immigrants during the study period, many of whom illegally-returned to the United States and were rearrested (recidivated), but were not included in the “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview.” Non-citizens were included in the comparison 5-year State study listed below.

Read more on the 2016 federal study in “Recidivism in America” (01/25/17), where I posted a link to the April 2014 comparison state study. Another associated article/blog is “An Inside View of Criminal Justice,” originally published by PrisonLawBlog.com (10/07/14). I show the influence of private prison companies on the BOP and failed policies that fuel mass incarceration.

INCREDIBLE NUMBERS FOR SEVEN DAYS: In “War & Reentry” I showed the millions of dollars American taxpayers will save if the BOP awards its prisoners 54-days per year, instead of the 47-days awarded since 11/01/1987, which resulted in prisoners serving longer prison sentences than intended by Congress.

The numbers listed were that 44,000 federal prisoners get released each year and that if released 7-days earlier, it would equate to an annual savings of thirty-million, six-hundred thirty-thousand, and six-hundred dollars.

Those numbers are correct: $30,630,600 saved by awarding federal prisoners the other 7-days lost in the BOP’s interpretation of federal law.

THE JUSTICES who dissented in Barber v. Thomas, 560 U.S. 474, 130 S.Ct. 2499, 177 L.Ed.2d 1, 13-16 (06/10/2010) cautioned that the majority opinion would add, “[t]ens of thousands of years of additional prison time on federal prisoners …. And if the only way to call attention to the human implications of this case is to speak in terms of economics, then it should be noted that the Court’s interpretation comes at a cost to the taxpayers of untold millions of dollars.”

The majority said the BOP’s interpretation was “reasonable” and that they must give it deference. The Justices did “[n]ot determine the extent to which Congress has granted the BOP authority to interpret the statute more broadly, or differently[;]” therefore, the agency may change their interpretation immediately to comply with the statute, clarified by the House of Representative in passing the FIRST STEP act with a vote of 360-59.

IF the BOP and Attorney General wants to save your taxpayer dollars, they will change their interpretation and give federal prisoners those other 7-days. The truth is, that if changed, the bureaucrats will probably give themselves large bonuses to consume funds saved.

COST OF INCARCERATION INCREASE: Between 2011 and 2017, the cost of incarcerating a federal prisoner rose from $79.16 to $99.45 per day or $28,893.40 to $36,299.25 per year. Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 52 (03/18/13), and Vol. 83, No. 83 (04/30/18). That will grow.

BE PROACTIVE FOR CHANGE: Demand a change! Contact your Senator and Congressional Representative and ask him or her to push prison reform and a change from draconian sentencing laws that lead to mass incarceration. Demand that BOP (Backwards on Purpose) officials be held accountable and follow the law to reduce recidivism.

BACK TO THE NUMBERS: I questioned the figures when I thought of 44,000 as the number of released federal prisoners, so I went to the source:  transcript of Ex-director, Mark Inch’s testimony before the “Oversight Hearing of the Bureau of Prisons” on April 17, 2018. Inch stated on page two, under subheading “OUR PROGRAMS – REENTRY BEGINS ON DAY ONE” as follows:

“Reentry programming is a critical component of public safety; inmates are much more likely to return to a life of crime and victimization if they leave prison without job training, treatment for mental illness and/or substance abuse, an education, and a general understanding of what it means to be a productive law abiding citizen. It is important that we in the Bureau help ensure the nearly 44,000 inmates who are released back into the communities each year do not repeat their past mistakes.” https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Inch-testimony.pdf.

EVIDENCE OF MORE RECIDIVISM:  Last month the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a new study (“2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014),” NCJ250975, May 2018), a follow-up to the 5-year study relied upon for comparison by the ex-director (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” NCJ244205, April 2014).

The 83% recidivism rate revealed in the 9-year follow-up study shows the seriousness of recidivism in America and the need for a magic elixir that does not exist. Until financial incentives end for politicians who continue making policies and laws that fuel mass incarceration, positive change will be slow: It is time to stop state and federal funding for private prisons.

In 2015, former presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, introduced a bill to bring back federal parole and to stop federal funding for private prisons. Apparently, none of Senator Sanders’ peers were interested in eliminating a source of income from private prison lobbyist, so the bill never made it to the vote stage of legislation.

FLAWED POLITICS: In passing laws and implementing policies and practices, the political trend for decades has been to restrict or prohibit violent felons from receiving time off their sentences for program participation. Criminal laws include increased penalties for career criminals and those who commit violent felonies.

To deny those offenders of program benefits increases the risk on society that those prisoners reoffend. Violent offenders need help, too.

Most violent offenders will be released from prison; therefore, those laws and policies are flawed and need restructured to include anyone who wants to participate and maybe change their lives, if the law-makers want to protect society and to reduce recidivism.

VIOLENT CRIME MISCONCEPTION: All categorically-listed crimes of violence do not contain violence. I addressed the issue in “Violent Crime Misconception” (02/24/16). I believe most people think of violent criminals as those who physically harm or threaten to harm their victims during the commission of crimes like rape, murder, and armed robbery.

Programs that current policy prohibits certain prisoners from receiving benefit from, are programs such as the Residential Drug Abuse Program. And in the event that the Senate approves the FIRST STEP act, any “Evidence-based Recidivism Reduction Program” or activity that reduces recidivism.

For instance, inmates with convictions for “certain” crimes of violence or sex crimes, will be prohibited from earning time off sentences by participating in evidence-based programs; e.g., Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) that reduces recidivism by 24%; taking educational or vocational classes. Restrictions also apply to those who participate in faith-based or social programs; mentoring or teaching any evidence-based program; participating in cognitive behavior treatment, “victim impact classes or other restorative justice programs.”

Those aspects of legislation needs changed and made retroactive to award prisoners for positive behavior exemplified under dire circumstances. Maybe Kim Kardashian will help get votes in the Senate to change the failed criminal justice policies. Go girl!

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Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com.