HB348 Clarification and Correction of Information in July Newsletter Regarding When the Time Cuts Go into Effect and Who is Eligible
Greg Johnson, administrator with the Board of Pardons and Parole alerted me that in July’s newsletter page 2 under the heading “Here’s the Downside” it says that time cuts are only available for individuals sentenced on or after October 1, 2015. This was my understanding based on discussion in the July FOCUS meeting.
However, Mr. Johnson has advised me that while most of the changes from House Bill 348 go into effect on October 1, 2015, time cuts are available regardless of when the original sentence was entered. He also reports that “there is no requirement to wait until October to submit an inmate for a time cut.” He states that the Department of Corrections may submit recommendations for time cuts at this time.
The relevant section from this site states:
Credit for Program Completion
The bill establishes a reduction of incarceration time (time cut) of at least four months for an individual who successfully completes the highest ranked Case Action Plan priority. An additional four month time cut will be granted for completing a second Case Action Plan program. Individuals with a life without parole sentence or who have been ordered to expire a life sentence by the Board are not eligible. The Board may order the forfeiture of earned time credits for a major disciplinary infraction. The Department of Corrections is revising the case planning process and working with the Board to establish procedures.
Although not all the procedures are in place, the Board has been granting time cuts for program completion. The Department of Corrections may submit a special attention request for an inmate that completes a Case Action Plan priority.
Steve Gehrke was also involved in this communication and reported that during the FOCUS meeting where we were asking questions about who is eligible for time cuts and when it goes into effect he may have misinterpreted the intent of our questions, or maybe we didn’t clarify what we meant when we posed them on this subject.
He has clarified that he thought I was asking if any current prison inmate who has ever completed an eligible program in the history of his / her incarceration would be automatically retroactively qualified for the 4 month time cut and have it applied. Which is part of what was asked. My understanding now is that the answer to that specific question would be NO, that would not automatically happen.
Also asked was if this only applies to individuals sentenced after October 1, 2015. So the answer is also No.
Mr. Gehrke has further clarified that if an offender is serving a sentence today (meaning he / she was sentenced prior to October 1, 2015 and completes an eligible program AFTER October 1, 2015), they will then be eligible for the time cut under HB 348. But corrections has to put in for it, per the BOP website.
Both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Gehrke have explained there is what can be termed a “soft implementation” already going on where Corrections and the Board are communicating to begin granting this time cut for those inmates who complete eligible programs today, even though that is not required under the new law.
I apologize for any misinformation or confusion that has been caused by my reporting in the newsletter on what was discussed in the FOCUS meeting regarding who is eligible for time cuts and when.
If you can, please print and send this email to your incarcerated loved ones where applicable so they don’t have to wait until the August Newsletter to receive this clarification. UPAN Directors are currently working to make sure we can receive more clarification of how HB 348 will be implemented and who it will benefit as time goes on.