Federal Corrections:

Information on Bureau of Prison Inmates Whose Release Dates Are Determined by the U.S. Parole Commission and Who Have Served at Least One-Third of Their Prison Sentences

GGD-98-172R: Published: Jul 14, 1998. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on inmates in the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) whose date of release from prison is determined by the U.S. Parole Commission, focusing on the: (1) time served, estimated time remaining to serve, gender, security, classification, and offense of conviction of old law inmates in BOP's custody as of June 1, 1998, who had served at least one-third of their prison sentences; and (2) Parole Commission's process for determining inmate prison release dates.

GAO noted that: (1) as of June 1, 1998, there were 7,817 old law inmates in BOP custody, including 7,452 male and 365 female inmates; (2) of the 7,817 old law inmates, about 55 percent had served at least one-third of their prison sentences; (3) BOP provided data on the estimated prison time remaining to serve for 4,042 of the 4,271 inmates who had served at least one-third of their sentences; (4) BOP estimated that about 55 percent of these 4,042 inmates had 2 years or less of their sentences remaining to serve, about 24 percent had between 2 years and 1 day and 5 years remaining to serve, and about 22 percent had more than 5 years remaining to serve; (5) data on time remaining to serve were unavailable for 229 inmates; (6) BOP provided data on the offense and security classification for 4,032 of the 4,271 inmates who had served more than one-third of their sentences; (7) about 61 percent of these inmates were convicted of robbery or drug crimes, and about 54 percent were classified as medium or high security risks; (8) according to the Parole Commission, about 75 percent of the 7,817 old law inmates in BOP custody as of June 1, 1998, were eligible for release from prison on parole, with the remaining parole ineligible inmates generally required to serve at least two-thirds of their prison terms prior to release from prison; (9) of those inmates eligible for parole, some had served less and some more than one-third of their sentences; (10) the Parole Commission has instituted guidelines that are to be used to determine a parole-eligible inmate's prison release date; (11) these guidelines describe customary ranges of time to be served before an inmate is released from prison; (12) the guidelines consider the severity of the offense for which the inmate was incarcerated, the prognosis for the inmate's safe reintegration into society, and the inmate's conduct within the correctional facility; (13) the Parole Commissioner's policy is that all parole-eligible inmates, except those with a minimum sentence of 10 years or more, are to receive an initial parole hearing before a hearing examiner within 120 days after the inmate's prison sentence commences; (14) the purpose of this hearing is to gather information and to make a recommendation for the inmate's presumptive release date from prison; (15) parole-eligible old law inmates are generally first eligible for parole after serving one-third of their prison sentences; and (16) however, under the Parole Commission's guidelines, an inmate's presumptive release date may be later than this date.

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