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Eligibility and Capacity Impact Use of Flexibilities to Reduce Inmates' Time in Prison

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2012
44 pages
This study examined the extent to which the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) uses its authorities to reduce a Federal prisoner's period of incarceration, as well as what factors, if any, impact BOP's use of these authorities.
The study found that BOP's use of authorities to reduce a Federal prisoner's period of incarceration varies. BOP primarily uses three authorities: the Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program (RDAP), community corrections, and good conduct time. Eligible inmates can participate in RDAP before release from prison, but those eligible for a sentence reduction are generally unable to complete RDAP in time to earn the maximum reduction (generally 12 months). For those who do complete RDAP generally do not receive the maximum reduction because they have less than 12 month to serve when they complete RDAP. In order to facilitate inmates' reintegration into society, BOP may transfer eligible inmates to community corrections locations for up to the final 12 months of their sentences. Inmates may spend this time in contract residential reentry centers (RRCs) for up to 6 months. Most eligible inmates receive all of their potential good-conduct time credit for exemplary compliance with institutional disciplinary regulations, i.e., 54 days taken off their sentence per year served. BOP officials cited inmate ineligibility for RRC placement as the primary reason that some inmates are not released through community corrections and one of the main reasons that some inmates are not able to participate in RDAP. BOP's lack of additional RRC space has prevented it from increasing the length of its RRC placements. This report recommends that BOP establish a plan, including time frames and milestones, for requiring contractors to submit prices of RRC beds and home-detention services. BOP concurred with this recommendation. 4 tables, 4 figures, and appended BOP comments