• Requires the Department of Justice to use existing funds to develop and implement recidivism reduction programming (drug rehabilitation, education, skills training, work programs, etc.) for 100% of eligible federal prisoners within 5 years. Ineligible prisoners include violent offenders, sex offenders, terrorists, child abusers, human traffickers, and repeat federal offenders.See the full text here. Haven't read the full thing myself, yet, so Grits may have more to say later on the topic, particularly if the legislation gains traction. Presently, Cornyn has three co-sponsors - Republican Senators Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, and Mike Lee - and the bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sounds good from the summary, but I'd feel more sanguine about its chances if the bill had bipartisan sponsorship - a key factor in passing Texas' 2007 reforms - and/or there was companion legislation in the House.
• Requires the Attorney General to enter into partnership with non-profit and faith-based organizations to provide many of these programs at little or no cost to the taxpayer.
• Requires the use of existing resources to develop a federal post-conviction risk assessment tool that uses empirical data to classify all federal prisoners as (1) low-risk of recidivism; (2) medium risk of recidivism; or (3) high risk of recidivism, and allow for regular reassessments of each eligible prisoner over time.
• Allows prisoners who are classified as low-risk to earn up to 50% of their remaining sentence in home confinement or a halfway house, with earned time credit accruing at a rate of 30 days for every 30 days the prisoner is successfully completing recidivism reduction programming.
• Allows medium-risk and high-risk prisoners to earn time credits at a rate of 30% and 20% while they are successfully completing recidivism reduction programming, but does not allow them to cash in this credit until the risk assessment tool shows that they are a low-risk of recidivating.
• Reduces the need for new federal prison construction allocation by working to cap and reduce the number of incarcerated offenders by shifting prisoners near the end of their sentence to home confinement.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Cornyn: Reform federal prisons based on Texas model
Texas' US Sen. John Cornyn this month introduced federal legislation, S. 1783, styled the Federal Prison Reform Act of 2013, that he says is modeled after state-level reforms in Texas. According to his press release on the topic, here's a summary of what the bill would do: