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Facing Federal Prison Time? Reduce Your Sentence by up to 12 Months.

Updated on February 14, 2021

There are ways to cut time off your sentence

It might not be as bad as it seems. You could be home a lot sooner than you think.
It might not be as bad as it seems. You could be home a lot sooner than you think.
Twelve weeks in drug class can result in a 12 month sentence reduction.
Twelve weeks in drug class can result in a 12 month sentence reduction.

What your lawyer won't tell because he probably doesn't know

The Federal Prison System or BOP as you will come to know it has no current provision whatsoever for parole. There is a mandatory 15% reduction in your sentence for good behavior that equates to roughly 2 months for every year that you are required to serve. As far as information that is provided to the general public, that is the only sentence reduction that is available. In reality that is simply incorrect and there are at least 2 other ways to receive a significant reduction in your sentence.

The first is what is known as rule 35 reduction or time off for cooperating with law enforcement in providing information against others who are either suspected of or have been charged with a crime and the authorities are looking for additional information or proof.

I won't spend very much time expanding on that program but will point out a few things that you would be wise to consider where it is concerned. First the amount of sentence reduction is not predetermined and is granted on the basis of a recommendation from law enforcement as to the value and extent of the help you provided. Given that situation the reduction could be very little or significant depending on what and how much you know and are willing to share with authorities. In my case my co-defendant received a rule 35 and received a 29 month sentence while I on the other hand a sentence of 44 months. He received a 15 month reduction.

It is likely that at some point during the process of your arrest or at some point later in time before you are sentenced, you will be approached, at least in passing by an officer involved in your case and given an opportunity to cooperate under the promise of a rule 35 reduction. This is after all, the way the system works best and additional charges and arrests are created by a suspect who has already been charged and is facing prison time providing information against others.

If you for some reason you are not asked and you choose to follow this path, you are certainly within your rights to ask for an officer involved in your case and tell him that you have information you wish to share. If you make the decision make sure that you make a prior agreement and if possible get it writing before providing any significant information. It is not outside the realm of possibility that once they receive your information, without an agreement in place, your contribution could be conveniently forgotten. If possible, it would be a good idea to include your attorney in those meetings.

There is at least one other factor to consider if you are thinking of seeking the benefit of a rule 35 reduction. Whether or not you do so is a very personal decision based on what you feel to be right and can personally live with. I will stop short of telling you to pursue it or not. I did not but that was my decision. What you decide of course will and should be totally up to you.

If you decide to do so, you should know that the decision is not something you want to broadcast. Participation in the rule 35 program is widely considered among inmates to be the actions of a "snitch" and those are generally frowned on inside the system, not only among inmates but in some cases even among guards as well.

I am not saying that anything would happen in the form of punishment if word were to get out and you received that kind of reputation. I am saying that you would be starting out at serious disadvantage among other inmates if you entered prison as a known snitch. Again however that is a decision that only you can make. My purpose here is to arm you with correct and accurate information.

The second and in my opinion safer and more foolproof way is to get accepted and enter into the drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Offered at various facilities around the country it is a 12 week program of study, participation and rehab offered in a classroom setting that will upon completion afford you a sentence reduction of up to 12 months.

This opportunity is not widely understood or known to be available by many defense attorneys, court appointed or otherwise so it is very often not offered as an option or even discussed but as I understand it is much easier to have the opportunity granted and ordered by the judge from the bench than it is to get into the program after you have entered prison. It is not impossible to do so however as that is exactly what I did.

In order to be eligible it must be established that you have a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse and as such are deemed to be in need of the treatment offered by the program.
There are several ways that this can be done. Proof or prior substance abuse treatment, hospitalization as a result of drug use, Drug and alcohol counseling, or Dr. visits brought on by drug abuse all qualify. You will also be required to write a letter explaining the negative effect substance abuse has had on your life and asking for acceptance into the program. Letters from friends and family members attesting to the fact that you have had a problem will not hurt in the effort.

If you are reading this and saying to yourself, I do not have a drug or alcohol problem. I urge you to rethink your position. Criminals more often that not have addictive personalities and if you drank or used drugs in the past at all there is a better than average chance that the problem is bad enough to warrant your acceptance and admittance into the program.

If you are concerned about your ability to provide and are currently on supervised release, see a minister, counselor or Dr., right away and establish the fact that a problem does exist by asking them for help. Sometime later after you have entered prison, you can then have a family member contact them asking for a letter documenting your visit and they without a doubt will provide it giving you what you need in order to get in.

If your crime is drug associated your job should be easier because the general perception, correct or not is that those who sell or distribute drugs also use them. Use this to your advantage. It should give you pretty good leg up in your effort to pull together what you need.

Finally as a last resort, you can meet with a prison counselor once you have entered prison, explain to them that you had a problem and ask them to recommend you for the program. That is what I did and again, I was accepted.

If you gain acceptance in the program and do not end up at a facility where it is offered, you will be transferred to a facility where the program is offered in a manner that will coincide chronologically with the time you are required to serve, the time you have served, the length of the program and the full 12 month reduction in sentence you are entitled to. This of course assumes that your sentence is long enough, If not your reduction with be shortened to coincide with the time you have remaining.

Here is an example of how the program would work and benefit you ideally. You have a 24 month sentence and are accepted into the program as ordered from the bench or are immediately accepted upon entering prison. Your 15% good time reduction is slightly less than 4 months leaving you with 20 months remaining. Taking into consideration the 3 months required to complete the program and the 12 month reduction, you would serve 5 months before entering the program plus the 3 months to complete it for a total 8 months which could be reduced even further if you are eligible for and are given time in the halfway house, which while not home certainly beats prison in the sense that you can work and go and come. It is conceivable that with acceptance into the program and timed properly you could serve 5 months total of a 24 month sentence 2 months waiting, 3 months in the program and 3 months in the halfway house, considerably better than it could be.

Finally, it think I would be remiss not to point out that there are those who simply do not get accepted, but with the proper documentation and a little effort, those cases are the exception rather than the rule.

I wish you luck in your efforts and I hope that this article has served to give you and your family hope in what at best is a difficult situation and has been helpful as and informative.


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