Last updated 12:08PM ET
August 23, 2014
Alabama
Alabama
"Good Time" Credits for Inmates Could Be Revoked
(2007-09-10)
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - In a step toward "truth-in-sentencing," the Alabama Sentencing Commission could propose changing the law that grants "good time" credits to state prisoners.

The credits have made jail terms uncertain and fallen short of their purpose, said Sentencing Commission director Lynda Flynt.

"What good time has become is an entitlement rather than an earned credit," Flynt told the Press-Register. "What truth-in-sentencing would do is it would let the victims, the judge, the prosecutors and the defendants know what they would serve."

The good time law went into effect in 1980.

Under the proposed change, a judge would sentence inmates until a particular date and they would have to serve at least that much time. If they broke the rules in prison, extra time would be added to their sentences. Officials hope the change would give inmates an incentive to behave peacefully.

Alabama, like other states, allows inmates who meet certain criteria to earn up to 75 days off their sentences for each month that they display appropriate behavior and comply with other factors.

The Sentencing Commission is still gathering data on a proposal to replace the good time system. Any bill that results would not go before the Legislature until at least 2009, Flynt said.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen said good time credits give inmates something to work toward and an incentive for behaving. But the new proposal, he said, would accomplish the same goal.

"It does help us maintain order in prison," he said. "We have to control them."

There were 29,537 inmates in the state prison system in July, according to DOC's July 2007 Monthly Statistical Report. At 193 percent occupancy, there are nearly twice as many inmates in the state's prisons as the system was designed to handle.

Inmates who enter prison are automatically classified into one of the four prisoner groups, Allen said.

"Then good time is calculated if you're eligible," he said. "It's computed up front."

Assistant Attorney General Rosa Davis, who serves on the Sentencing Commission, said that good time was created to give inmates a chance at early release for enrolling in certain work and rehabilitation programs.

"The Legislature said if an inmate does x, y and z, they get so many days off their sentence," she said.

But the system has evolved in such a way that "instead of an inmate earning release, they're automatically credited with it," she said.

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Information from: Press-Register, http://www.al.com/mobileregister
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