Getting The BOP To Apply FSA Time Credits: From Someone On Home Confinement
After months of waiting, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) started applying First Step Act (FSA) time credits last week. According to a new BOP rule, the BOP plans to count all of the FSA time credits people have earned all the way back to Dec. 21, 2018, when the FSA became law.
For some, the good news impacted them fast. Right away, the BOP moved some people to home confinement or a residential reentry center. And some people even got released. But many others kept waiting. Even now, almost a week later, many still have no idea if or when the BOP will apply the FSA credits they’ve earned.
If you’re one of those people who are still waiting for FSA Time Credits, here are some thoughts on what to expect next from someone who has been on home confinement under the CARES Act since last September…
When will the BOP apply your FSA time credits?
Because I am on home confinement, I have plenty of free time to follow social media and keep up to date with current events. Two weeks ago, social media went ablaze with the news that the BOP would finally apply First Step Act time credits
After only a few hours, people started receiving calls from their halfway house to come down and get their ankle monitors removed because they are moving to probation. I received calls from friends I met in prison who were on home confinement with the same news.
My first reaction was excitement and happiness for my friends. But, naturally, my next reaction focused on my own situation. “How does this apply to me?” Like Kevin Ring, FAMM’s President, recommended, I checked the BOP’s “Inmate Locator” to see if my release date had changed. It hadn’t. And it still hasn’t.
Because I didn’t learn anything that way about when the BOP would apply my FSA time credits, I started my own research instead. That research led me to find a trend that initially made sense.
I read about a few people on social media who had received the call to have their ankle monitors removed. They all had April and May release dates to come off of home confinement.
Then I spoke to my two friends who I met in prison that got “the call” and had their FSA time credits applied. They both had one thing in common: they were scheduled to be off of home confinement in June 2022. This made sense to me. Like the DOJ said, the BOP was releasing people in order of their release date.
What happens if the BOP doesn’t apply them or applies the wrong amount?
But things changed when I talked to my BOP therapist. She said other incarcerated people who got “the call” weren’t scheduled to be released until Nov. 2022, a month later than me.
As of today, I still don’t have any information about if or when the BOP might apply my FSA time credits. Unfortunately, “When will the BOP apply your FSA time credits?” isn’t the only question that remains unanswered. I also don’t know what happens if the BOP doesn’t apply any of my credits or applies the wrong amount.
I have a shorter sentence of 24 months. By now, I have completed almost 60% of my sentence. The first three months I was in prison, we were locked down because of COVID-19. As a result, I was not able to participate in programming. Is this taken into consideration?
Once programming began, I took classes like fatherhood, anger management, stress management and others. Am I getting credit for these? I taught classes on credit management, dressing for success and searching for a job. And I also participated in RDAP for almost three months. Am I getting credit for these, too?
I’ve also heard that certain jobs receive FSA time credits. I worked as a dishwasher for two months and a reentry clerk for six months. Do I receive any credit for these jobs? As of now, I simply have no idea.
How can you challenge the BOP’s FSA time credits decision?
Like others, I reached out to my halfway house for direction on FSA Time Credits while I wait on home confinement. They told me that the releases keep trickling in and that they would let me know if my name showed up. I asked if they could ask and was told “that it does not work like that.” That’s it.
This past week, I read this Newsweek article that stated that the BOP actually had until Jan. 24 to apply FSA time credits. I have no idea where that date comes from. I think it’s Jan. 15. But it’s been several days since either deadline too, and I still haven’t heard anything.
So, I’m now just waiting to find out my fate with the only truth that I know: when it comes to the BOP, the only thing that is consistent is inconsistency.