Below is a message Michael Santos sent to our community on March 15, 2023 about Earned Time Credits.
“Dear Members of our Community,
I’m writing to provide a brief update on a message I received about Earned Time Credits and calculations.
Over the past seven days, I visited three federal prisons. Each time I visit a federal prison, I have an opportunity to meet with the institution’s Executive Staff. During my conversations with those local leaders, I get opportunities to advocate for changes that I think would benefit the agency and the people inside.
Some people may recall an earlier email blast that I sent to members of our community. Members of our community have been writing that, in many institutions, people were not receiving 15 days of Earned Time Credits each month.
In some institutions, administrators concluded that the Initial Classification did not count as one of the two risk assessments. Consequently, the agency did not award 15 days of ETCs until after the third team meeting.
To get clarity on what should happen, I hired Hugh Hurwitz, a former BOP Director. I asked Hugh to help me understand how he would have instructed staff to grant the Earned Time Credits.
While on a trip to a prison in Springfield, Missouri, Hugh accompanied me. He sat at a table beside me. Together, we read the First Step Act, the Federal Register, and various BOP Program Statements. Our basic takeaway was that the Initial Classification (the first team meeting that takes place approximately 30 days after getting to the designated prison) resulted in a risk assessment. The second Program Review (approximately six months after the Initial Classification) resulted in the second Risk Assessment.
If a person did not have a disqualifying offense, received two risk assessments, and the PATTERN score showed a low or minimal risk level that did not increase, the person would begin to receive the maximum of 15 days per month in ETC—provided the person participated in a productive activity, an authorized program, and was not in refusal status.
After getting confirmation from Hugh and a second BOP administrator, I wrote the community email to share what was supposed to happen. We continued to advocate for this change. Hugh expressed his views to others in the administration. And each time I visited a prison, I spoke about our assessment on the two assessment rule with Wardens.
Our advocacy has always worked with these incremental stages.
Yesterday I got good news on the Earned Time Credits.
While visiting a federal prison, I met with senior leaders. Although I’m not authorized to name the individual, the leader told me that the Central Office released a memo. The new memo updated the way that administrators would calculate ETC. The new memo clarified that, throughout the BOP, an update would be made on ETC. The first team meeting would count as the first risk assessment, and the second team meeting, approximately six months later, would count as the second risk assessment.
According to what I heard from the senior leader, the BOP will update the files on the third Saturday of this month (March 18, 2023). Going forward, all the automated calculations will reflect the new rule, which means, after two assessments, people who qualify will receive the 15 days per month.
I asked if the autocalculation would be retroactive. The senior leader (whom I’m not at liberty to name) confirmed that it would be retroactive.
Although I did not personally read the Memorandum, this is the information I received while meeting with senior leaders in federal prison. I asked three separate times. Each time, the person confirmed that the auto calculation would reflect the new rule.
I wanted to share this news with members of our community.