July 24, 2017: Summer 2017 Legislative Updates-Federal Prisons
With the Summer halfway through, the federal prison rumor mill is in full swing. First, there are still many inquiries here at NPSC about the so called “65% Law” which would, if passed, increase the good time for federal inmates from 15% to 35%. While there are several bills introduced into the 115thCongress, none of them will involve increasing federal good time, we are sorry to say.
Second, there is also a prevalent rumor that all federal prison camps will be closed and that those inmates would be released in a Residential Re-Entry Center or Home Confinement. Such is pure rumor and there are no such plans by the Trump Administration or the Federal Bureau of Prisons to do so.
However, there are several bills that would certainly benefit federal offenders or federal inmates If passed.
First, there is a bill in both the House and the Senate, known as the Justice Safety Valve Act (H.R. 2435/S. 1134 (115th Congress), which if approved would allow the court to avoid imposing a mandatory minimum sentence by applying the “safety valve” in all cases not just controlled substances cases. In order to do so, the Court must find that imposing a mandatory minimum sentence does not comply with the goals of sentencing as enumerated in 18 U.S.C. §3553(a). We at National Prison & Sentencing Consultants strongly support the passage of this bill and we urge all to contact their Representative and Senators to support these bills.
Second, there is H.R. 64, Federal Prison Bureau Nonviolent Offender Relief Act of 2017 (115th Congress) which would allow nonviolent elderly inmates (over age 45) who have a clean prison record and who have completed half their sentence to be released. This bill, or some similar bill, has been introduced into Congress over the last 6 or 7 years with no progress or serious consideration. John Webster, NPSC’s Managing Director, does not believe that this bill has any chance of being passed under the current Administration or Congressional composition.
As most know, the current state of acrimony between and among both chambers of Congress and the Trump Administration, along with a fractured Republican party, lead us to believe that there will be no significant legislation affecting federal inmates of federal offenders at least until after the 2018 elections.
As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 615-696-6153