Friday, February 19, 2010

#55 Prison talk; Minimum and Maximum (retro)

Prison Talk: Minimum and Max

Some of the subjects I have recently been making blogs on lately have been touchups on subjects I have gone into greater detail on before. So feel free to jump back and check out some of those older blogs or email me to talk about other issues.

So today’s blog is about a subject a lot of people talk about when it comes to a loved one in prison. Many of you have heard of the terms, “minimum” and “maximum” sentence terms. So what does it mean, and how might it apply to your loved one?

As you know, in most cases, when an inmate gets a sentence, it is a set period of time that this person must serve to “pay his debt to society”, a term I personally believe is a complete hypocrisy to the justice system because even after an inmate does his time, society continues to find ways to further condemn ex felons.

But when a person goes to prison, he has a sentence, a period of time he must serve. In many states there is a window of time, instead of a flat period of time. For example, a person could be sentenced for 60 months, but in most cases that time is within a window. In most cases the actual sentence might indicate the maximum time a person is to normally spend in prison, but also allow a venue for an inmate to get out a little sooner based on good behavior or working in prison.

This is where the “minimum” comes in, and it starts at the sentencing of the inmate. When a judge gives the punishment to an inmate, he will usually give the sentence in a “min-max” format. An example of this might be 45-60 months.

What does this mean, and how can you help your loved one with this bit of info? Well, in most cases your loved one already knows what this means, but often times I find that those on the outside are clueless on what this means. Many think that the inmate can get out in 45 months (in this example) but they don’t realize that the minimum is conditional.

In the example of 45-60 months, the sentence means that the inmate must remain in prison for the MINIMUM of 45 months, and COULD be in prison up until the maximum of 60 months. Lots of people think that if he has been in 44 months and 3 weeks, then he will be released in a week…not true.

To actually qualify for this minimum, the inmate must earn gain time by attending programs like AA or DART, or getting their GED or doing prison jobs to cut down the time from the max to the minimum.

Even though an inmate can be released at the minimum date, he is assumed by default to be in prison until the maximum date. It is up to the inmate to work down that date from the maximum to the minimum. Your loved one won’t get gain time just by “being good” in prison, it goes further than that. The inmate must show good behavior by not getting in trouble while in prison, and by attending programs and/or working while in prison. Any days that he gets by doing this is called gain time, and is applied against the maximum date of the sentence.

Example: If an inmate gets a janitor job that awards 4 days of gain time a month, then if he works that job 6 months, he’d get 24 days added against the maximum sentence. Or, to put it more accurately, those days are SUBTRACTED from the maximum date, thus moving it closer to the minimum date.

Let’s extend this a bit using the 45-60 months sentence. Let’s say a guy goes to prison and gets a job as a janitor, and that job earns him 4 days a month gain time. Let’s say he works on that job for a whole year. How much time would he then have left on his sentence?

Think about that for a moment.

Answer. If there have been no other changes, then we know that after one year, the inmate would not be sitting at 45-60 months anymore, since time has passed. That inmate’s sentence is now down to 33-48 months, because remember, he has already served 12 months of that sentence.

But because he has worked that job which earns him 4 days per month, you multiply 4 days of gain time TIMES 12 months, which would be 48 days; roughly a month and a half.

If you convert those days into months, you’d be looking at about 1 and a half months. That number is subtracted from the maximum end of the sentence, NOT the minimum. Remember, the inmate must do the original minimum sentence, which in this case is 45 months. Having already done 12 months, he still must do 33 more months at the minimum. But his max date shrinks down a month and a half, dropping it from the current 48 months to 46 and a half months.

This would make his sentence, after one year or working as a janitor, 33 to 46.5 months. He still must do the minimum, but the more he works, the sooner he may be able to get out at the minimum date.

If we extended that another year, then after 2 years of working as a janitor, that inmate would have done 24 months, and earned 96 days, or just over 3 months.

That means his remaining sentence would be 21-43 months, and the more he works, the more he can knock off, but no matter how much he earns, he cannot go under the minimum.

So, that’s a part of how this works, remember that this does not work on every state, but the premise is similar. Hope you can get something out of it. Feel free to email me to ask about support or about other prison issue questions at derf4000 (AT) embarqmail (DOT) com.

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