The Answer Is It Depends
Video Transcribed: Is there a way to get released early from a federal prison sentence? My name’s Ted Hasse. I’m a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in Oklahoma at Wirth Law Office. I handle federal criminal matters here in our Tulsa office.
The short answer to whether or not somebody who’s been convicted of a federal crime, is serving time in a federal facility, whether or not they can get out early, some ways, it depends. There are ways for some people to get released early. There are limited circumstances by which somebody can get the sentencing guidelines under which they were sentenced, re-evaluated.
I’m going to talk in a series of videos about what those options may be. This all falls under sort of the broad umbrella of post-conviction relief. That is, somebody who’s been convicted, say you or a family member has been convicted of a federal crime, is serving federal time, doing their incarceration in a federal facility. And we frequently get calls from these people because the sentencing guidelines can be harsh in federal and people can serve a lot of time.
And so there’s a lot of years following a conviction that we find people end up reaching out oftentimes, through their family members to speak with us about what their options might be, to find a way to get them out early.
The sort of background to all of this is that again, sentencing guidelines can be very harsh at the federal level. If we find a lot of people who are serving a lot of time looking for really any option that there might be out there. And then the other thing about the federal system is there’s no parole, parole has been abolished at the federal level.
There’s something similar, I’ll probably talk about it in another video. A similar situation is people are released and after their term of incarceration, usually have to serve a period of what’s called supervised release, which looks like probation but isn’t exactly probation. Again, I’ll talk about that elsewhere.
As an initial sort of point, also, let me talk about something that… You don’t need legal representation, ways that you will be out of your term of incarceration earlier than the sentence, but it’s going to happen for everybody depending on the circumstances. Is it an option available for everybody that doesn’t necessarily require action through a court? First of all, it’s credit for good time served.
Now in the federal system, unlike many state sentences where you can see people getting a 7 or a 10-year sentence, all suspended, so they don’t end up serving it, that that doesn’t happen in federal. You hear about people getting a 20-year sentence, 13 of which has to be served, that’s not how it works in federal. You get credit for good time served and most people are able to get that credit. It’s approximately 15% of a sentence.
There’s a special way the Bureau of Prisons calculates that. After 311 days of good time that you serve, you’re given credit for the full year, the full 365 days. So, in figuring out how much time is actually going to be served, you’re thinking in terms of roughly whatever the number of months is for the sentence, multiply that times 85%, and roughly that’s about what’s actually going to be served.
And then the other thing that happens is for 12 months at the end of a term of incarceration, an individual can be put into community reintegration. And community reintegration can look like a few different things. It can be a halfway house, and it could be as unrestrictive, as even home confinement where an individual has to stay at home, sort of like a COVID lockdown, usually allowed to go and work during the day, but having to stay at home.
There’s no hard and fast rule about how long that will be. It can be up to 12 months now, more likely to be in the six-month range, but that’s something that happens for everybody, typically, at the end of their term. Most people, I should say, most people who face federal incarceration will get that opportunity.
I’m going to talk in other videos about some of the specific provisions where folks are finding opportunities to get released early from a term of incarceration from the federal system. Please feel free to give us a call if you need a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney, or If you any have questions, call (918) 932-2800.