BOP Posts (Another) New Policy on First Step Act Credits

Almost four years after the First Step Act was enacted in December 2018, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has finally adopted a formal policy on how to implement this law passed by Congress that could potentially shorten the sentences of most BOP prisoners.

In usual BOP style, the policy is long and complex — but it’s worth a read. It’s important because it clears up some of the rumors that prisoners couldn’t get retroactive credits under the First Step Act (they can), along with some other clarifications on how prisoners can qualify to earn time off their sentences for taking certain programs.

Listed below is the new policy titled “First Step Act of 2018 – Time Credits:
Procedures for Implementation of 18 U.S.C. § 3632(d)(4),” under Program Statement 5410.01 (Nov. 18, 2022), and signed by the BOP’s new director, Colette S. Peters.

Free Power of Attorney Forms for Prisoners

If you need a power of attorney form, you don’t have to pay for them. Here’s a durable power of attorney form for Florida, and a revocation form when the time comes to end the power of attorney. I also included a generic power of attorney form that may be used in other states.

Florida Durable Power of Attorney Form:

Florida Revocation of Power of Attorney Form:

Generic Durable Power of Attorney Form:

I assume no responsibility for these forms. I found them online and figured I woulf make them available to prisoners and their families who often ask me about power of attorney forms (usually in Florida, one of the states that prides itself on incarcerating most of its residents). If you see a problem withe the form, let me know and I will remove it. If this is helpful, I might add an entire section of forms for all the states. Let me know!


Is the BOP Sending People in Halfway Houses Back to Prison?

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:

What’s it like inside a prison bus?

Ever wonder what it’s like inside a prison bus? While they all look a little different, the common theme is dirty, overcrowded, and uncomfortable. Here’s a look inside a prison bus operated by a private, for-profit prison company.

A look inside a prison bus

Inmates transported in these buses are shackled, with their hands cuffed to a chain around their waist and their feet chained together. Sometimes a black box is put around the handcuffs to prevent a prisoner from moving their hands at all. It’s called being “black boxed” and it’s painful. You can’t eat, drink, or use the toilet properly — yet they will give you food and water and offer a toilet on the bus.

So, this video is not a true representation of what it’s like in a prison bus because we were just using it as a way to evacuate Tampa due to Hurricane Ian Sept 27, 2022.

I’ve Joined Zoukis Consulting Group

It only made sense, really. My good friend, Chris Zoukis, asked me to join his consulting firm and I had to say yes. Chris is a highly-respected author and noted expert in federal criminal law and BOP matters. Right up my alley!

My ties to Chris go back several years, when we were cowriters for Criminal Legal News and Prison Legal News magazines. We stayed in touch over the years and, once Chris finished law school, he asked me to come aboard.

How could I say no?

I’ve joined as a litigation consultant with the Zoukis Consulting Group and it’s been busy. I opened a new office in Tampa and the boxes of stuff keep showing up at the reception desk. Every single day.

You can call me direct, 813-502-1007, or request a consult with the main office in Charleston, SC, at 843-620-1100.

Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me all this time and I hope to hear from you soon!

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