A better solution is legislation that reduces inmate population and better serves their rehabilitative needs while not impacting public safety. Simultaneously, it would create safer prisons and save taxpayer billions of dollars annually. The hardest part, writing the legislation, is already done. Several of these ideas simply expand current programs or return policies that existed prior to 1984.
Additional Good Time credits — Federal inmates must serve 85 percent of their sentences with an automatic 15 percent Good Time [GT] sentence reduction. Provide additional GT reductions for GED completion and college credits earned, vocational training, drug/alcohol counseling, sex offender treatment, etc. through 18 US Code section 4161-4166.
Reinstate Federal Parole — Federal parole was abolished in 1984. It should be reinstated to re-establish parole that is tied to good conduct and rehabilitation.
Deport foreign nationals — Nearly 48 percent of federal inmates are non-violent foreigners convicted of drug and illegal re-entry charges. Allow for immediate deportation of these inmates to their home countries.
Expand the Second Chance Act — This existing program allows inmates to serve the final year of sentence in halfway houses (6 month) and home detention (6 month). This time provides important transition needs and is cost effective. Create and fund more halfway houses and post-release supervision.
Reduce Mandatory Minimums — Many federal inmates are non-violent, first time offenders (fraud, drug conspiracy, Internet pornography, etc) who, regardless of circumstance, face 5-, 10-, and 15-year mandatory minimums. For crimes that demand some jail time, create the category of “probation ineligible offense” and eliminate or substantially reduce these mandatory minimum sentences.
Write your senators, congressmen, and local officials to demand these changes. Visit Change.org to sign the petition to reestablish federal parole.