What Options Do I Have?
FEDERAL PRISON ALTERNATIVES - Sentence Reduction Strategy - #5
“Gross” vs. “Net” Sentences
Today - the importance of plea-bargaining, planning and preparation for sentencing, incarceration and post-conviction remedies must not be relegated to the post-verdict or post-plea stage. Defendants must recognize the importance of calling upon experienced consultants early in the criminal defense process, in order to reduce unnecessary exposure to prolonged incarceration.
Rightfully, defense attorneys focus their efforts on the “gross” sentence that will be handed down by the court - under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. The “gross” sentence received by a defendant in United States District Court is set in stone. Federal inmates must remain in prison until they have completed 85% of their “gross” sentence.
- For example - a defendant receiving a 37-month sentence must remain incarcerated for 31.45 months. Only then will an inmate become eligible for release.
That being said, there are post-sentencing options available – unfortunately, many defense teams are not fully versed in the ever changing and highly fluid BOP policy manual and / or strategies which take advantage of existing bureau of prison programs to effectively position their clients to achieve the most favorable “net” sentence.
The “net” sentence is the actual sentence served by an inmate. The United States Sentencing Guidelines in their current form are rigid, unsympathetic and unyielding - however, there is a program available to a limited number of “qualified” inmates, which provides relief from the 85% rule:
- The 500-Hour Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP)
This program offers eligible inmates up to a 12-month sentence reduction, in addition to spending the last 6 months of custody in a halfway house. Graduates effectively mitigate their “gross” sentence by 18 months!
- For example – A graduate of the Bureau’s 500-Hour Residential Drug Abuse Program (originally sentenced to 37 months incarceration) would become eligible for transfer to community custody in approximately 13.5 months!
Obviously, the entire federal inmate population aggressively pursues entrance into this program. Unfortunately, not every inmate is “eligible” and there are only a limited number of classes available at select facilities. Members of the Bureau of Prison’s psychology department demonstrate a need for the program and determine eligibility by carefully scrutinizing documentation and entrance criteria.
We properly document all pre-requisite eligibility and ensure that clients establish a solid foundation of current Bureau of Prison policies and procedure to aid in a seamless transition through federal prison in the minimum required time.