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house Bill H.R. 4018

Should Elderly Prisoners Be Eligible for Home Detention Sooner if They Earn Good Time Credits?

Argument in favor

Nonviolent elderly offenders in the federal prison system should be released into home detention as soon as possible as both a matter of compassion and to save the federal government money (home detention is much cheaper than prison). Counting these offenders’ good time credit towards a requirement that they serve two-thirds of their sentences would go a long way toward this goal.

jimK's Opinion
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last Tuesday
Yes, allowing elderly non-violent convicts who have served two thirds of their sentence get credit for good behavior credit is cost effective and humane. It incentivizes good behavior while in captivity and should help reduce the overall per capita costs of imprisonments. I do think that a couple of ‘whereas’ restrictions should apply: this should not be simply automatic, plaintiffs should have an opportunity to testify before a ‘patrol-like’ board to consider the nature of the crime. I think that there should be a minimum time-served before these benefits could be applied, say something like four years, so that the incarceration hopefully remains an effective rehabilitation and deterrent; that enough time has passed to prevent quick re-association with former conspirators.
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Michael.J.L's Opinion
···
last Tuesday
I support this bill. It is humane and helps decrease the prison population, removing people who could have received punishment and rehabilitation in other ways.
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···
last Tuesday
Yes, if the crime was nonviolent and they have a secure home / place to go to.
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Argument opposed

The question of whether nonviolent elderly offenders’ good time credit can be counted toward the requirement that they serve two-thirds of their sentences before being transferred to home detention has already been ruled on by the courts, which decided that the good time credits can’t count towards the two-thirds requirement. Congress shouldn’t intervene on this matter to overrule the courts’ decision.

Jim2423's Opinion
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last Tuesday
Did the victims get any humanitarian relief from their evil doers? Did the victims receive monetary compensation from their evil doers? I assume you know my answer. No! You did the crime, you do the time!
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Doug's Opinion
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last Tuesday
Prisoners are sentenced to a specified term and altering that term is a slap in the face to their victims.
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Sandy 's Opinion
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last Wednesday
Another Democratic bill that shows Democrats give more rights to criminals than to law abiding citizens. They also give criminals slaps on the wrist instead of long jail sentences, even the ones convicted of violent crimes.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
    IntroducedJuly 25th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 4018?

This bill would enable elderly prisoners to serve more of their sentences in home detention if they earn good behavior credits by amending the Elderly and Family Reunification for Certain Non-Violent Offenders Pilot Program that was reauthorized by the FIRST STEP Act of 2018. This pilot program permits the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to transfer eligible nonviolent elderly prisoners into a home detention pilot program based on the prisoner serving two-thirds of their sentence. However, as currently interpreted, the two-thirds sentence doesn’t include good time credit. This bill would clarify the law to allow eligible nonviolent elderly prisoners to include good time credit as part of their two-thirds sentence requirement. 

Prisoners in the federal prison system can earn up to 54 days per year in good time credits, which are subtracted from their total sentence.

Impact

Elderly prisoners in the federal prison system; federal prison system; and elderly prisoners in the federal prison system’s transfer into a home detention pilot program.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4018

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced this bill to improve U.S. prisons and give more incarcerated individuals a chance at rehabilitation and reentry into society. After this bill passed the House Judiciary Committee, he said

“Passage of the FIRST STEP Act last year was a significant bipartisan accomplishment to improve America’s prisons and give more incarcerated individuals the chance at rehabilitation and reentry into society. I'm particularly proud of our improvements and expansion of the pilot program to allow elderly prisoners to transition to home confinement for the remainder of their sentence. Elderly prisoners are among the most vulnerable in our nation’s prison system. This bill's small clarification to include good time credit is a humane fix that will also reduce federal costs."

R Street and 33 other organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans for Tax Reform, Center for American Progress, and Drug Policy Alliance, support this bill. In a joint organization letter in support, they wrote: 

“Our federal prisons are looking more and more like old-age homes. It is inhumane, and it is unsustainable. It is a crisis that deeply affects us fiscally, and more importantly, goes to the core of who we are as Americans… This is why we supported the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program in the First Step Act, passed into law this past December. This program transfers nonviolent federal individuals in prison to home confinement if they are 60 years-old or older and have served two-thirds of their sentence. Obviously, home confinement is much cheaper for the taxpayer than housing and feeding someone in a prison. It further goes without saying that the medical care available on ‘the outside’ is incomparably better than the mediocre medical care available in prison. The problem is that the two-thirds is currently interpreted to be 2/3 of the original sentence, not 2/3 of the sentence with good time credit included… It is clear the only way to fix this is legislatively. Congress must clarify the language to show that the 2/3 calculation should include good time credit. Hence, the need for H.R. 4018, which is a technical fix that clarifies what was probably a drafting error so that these eligible elderly incarcerated individuals, who were ‘model inmates’ that followed the rules, should receive good time credit like everyone else.”

The organizations argue that this fix is needed for three reasons:

  • To ensure consistency with how BOP calculates all other transfer decisions (the pilot program at question in this bill is the only transfer and release decision for which BOP doesn’t calculate good conduct time credits); 
  • As a matter of fairness and to maintain the compassionate purpose of this provision, since there’s no good reason for elderly men and women to lose their good time credit when they did in fact act with good behavior; and
  • To save taxpayer dollars by releasing more older incarcerated individuals to home detention instead of prison.

This legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 28-8 roll call vote with the support of 12 bipartisan cosponsors, including seven Democrats and five Republicans.


Of NoteJustice Dept. Inspector General Michael Horowitz reports that Bureau of Prisons (BOP) data shows that inmates age 50 and older are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. inmate population, increasing 25% from 24,857 in FY2009 to 30,962 in FY2013. Horowitz observed, “Based on BOP cost data, we estimate that the BOP spent approximately $881 million, or 19 percent of its total budget, to incarcerate aging inmates in FY 2013.”

In response to the rising nonviolent elderly imprisonment rate, Congress passed the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program in the First Step Act in December 2018. This program transfers nonviolent federal individuals in prison to home confinement if they are 60 years-old or older and have served two-thirds of their sentence. However, the language in the Second Chance Act of 2007 is “of the term of imprisonment to which the offender was sentenced.” Based on this language, when the (BOP) conducted the elderly pilot program in 2010, it calculated the 75% of the sentence as the full sentence imposed by the judge, without good time included. 

When this question was reviewed by the judicial branch in 2010, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the BOP that the statute doesn’t include good time credit (as ruled in Mathison v. Davis and Izzo v. Wiley). Therefore, in light of these rulings, the BOP has concluded that it’s obligated to calculate the ⅔ requirement under the First Step Act using time sentenced without good time included.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / D-Keine)

AKA

To provide that the amount of time that an elderly offender must serve before being eligible for placement in home detention is to be reduced by the amount of good time credits earned by the prisoner, and for other purposes.

Official Title

To provide that the amount of time an elderly offender must serve before being eligible for placement in home detention is to be reduced by the amount of good time credits earned by the prisoner, and for other purposes, as amended

    Yes, allowing elderly non-violent convicts who have served two thirds of their sentence get credit for good behavior credit is cost effective and humane. It incentivizes good behavior while in captivity and should help reduce the overall per capita costs of imprisonments. I do think that a couple of ‘whereas’ restrictions should apply: this should not be simply automatic, plaintiffs should have an opportunity to testify before a ‘patrol-like’ board to consider the nature of the crime. I think that there should be a minimum time-served before these benefits could be applied, say something like four years, so that the incarceration hopefully remains an effective rehabilitation and deterrent; that enough time has passed to prevent quick re-association with former conspirators.
    Like (37)
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    Did the victims get any humanitarian relief from their evil doers? Did the victims receive monetary compensation from their evil doers? I assume you know my answer. No! You did the crime, you do the time!
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    I support this bill. It is humane and helps decrease the prison population, removing people who could have received punishment and rehabilitation in other ways.
    Like (12)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, if the crime was nonviolent and they have a secure home / place to go to.
    Like (10)
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    @Jim2423: I'm confused... in another poll you said that since people ignore marijuana laws that we should just get rid of them and release those convicted. Now you're saying people should be locked up until the end of their sentence... So which is it? This poll is about non-dangerous offenders, yes, it includes people in prison for marijuana charges. I get it, voting is confusing for some. Just take your time, think about the options. Forget what CNN says, this will lead to some opinion flopping back and forth...
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    Who cares if the courts have ruled against good time credits; enacting legislation when the courts are wrong is one of the purposes of our legislative branch. If the crime(s) is non violent, time and age requirements met and a favorable impact determined then by all means release to home detention is warranted. I’d suspect that the for-profit incarceration industry would lobby heavily against this humane bill, falsely stressing public safety without discussing the negative financial effect that this could have on a portion of their profitability. I respectfully urge your passage of HR 4018.
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    Why just elderly? Seems like another baby boomer only plan....
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    Our prison system needs a complete overhaul. Right now all we're doing is storing prisoners without any real attempt at rehabilitation, due to the unregulated privatization of our prisons. This is something else you could tackle, instead of kissing Trump's ass.
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    Yes, elderly, non-violent offenders with good behavior, who have served most of their sentence should be allowed credit for the remainder of the time served. This is humane and will save tax dollars.
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    Incarceration is expensive, and if older prisoners have shown good behavior then they should be considered for home detention. The original goal of prison time was rehabilitation, but if we keep people locked up forever then we apparently don't believe in that anymore. This seems like a good step in reforming our expensive, wasteful, and inhumane prison system, the largest in the world.
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    If they are non-violent offenders, and not a danger to the community. Rapist, pedifiles, and hate crime should not be eligible to be unleashed on society. It would like unleashing a rabid animal in a school yard at recess.
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    With a proper review process this seems like a good idea because the main purpose of Imprisoning people is to protect the Public, and I would think that the Elderly generally have less ability to commit violent Crimes again.
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    Cost effective. Humane. Sounds good to me.
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    In general I support the idea.
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    Only if they are being released due to infirmity. This could be applied to all not just the elderly. If they have an active sentence it should be served without over riding reason for early release. Then if the reoffend they should serve the remainder of the old sentence as well as any additional sentence for the new offense.
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    This Elderly Home Detention idea is a good & humanitarian response to the rising non-violent elderly imprisonment rate (something I hadn’t realized was happening!). I think it’s a decent start to much-needed ‘prison reform’. Now — y’all need get to work on ENDING the idiotic “prison for profit” crap going on in our country! Rich people getting much richer by capitalizing on mass incarceration is DISGUSTING and it MUST END! We should not allow corporations to make money on the backs of human misery!
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    My question is why are we incarcerating the elderly NON-VIOLENT population? What jackasses would do such a thing? Give them community service. Get a brain cell people.
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    Why not??
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    I urge you to investigate explore in depth the ‘Correction’-Justice system in Germany. Their approach revolves around “Rehabilitation” and not punishment. Check it out.
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    It would save tons of money and give those prisoners a chance to die happily instead of prison. Elderly prisoners most likely wouldn’t even be able to commit more crime due to old age and health issues that come along with that. It sounds like a great solution to part of the current prison system. Plus, they only receive it if they have good time credits.
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