Durbin, Grassley: New Justice Department Rule Will Implements First Step Act's Earned Time Credits Program And Incentive Rehabilitation

This final rule follows concerns raised by Durbin and Grassley, lead authors of the First Step Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following joint statement in light of news that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a new earned time credit rule that will encourage the dispersal of credits earned by inmates to reduce risks of recidivism, which is a crucial component of the landmark First Step Act:


“Establishing robust programming and a fair system to earn time credits is critical to reducing recidivism, which should be a primary goal of our criminal justice system.  The original proposed rule would have undermined the effectiveness of the First Step Act by making it less likely that inmates would participate in programs designed to prevent them from committing another crime after they are released from prison.  Today’s final earned time credit rule is a significant step toward achieving the First Step Act’s goal of helping inmates to successfully reintegrate into communities.  We’re pleased that the Bureau of Prisons followed our advice and revised the rule to reflect Congress’ intent when it passed the bipartisan First Step Act,” Durbin and Grassley said.


The First Step Act (FSA) requires the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to award time credits to those who participate in recidivism-reduction programming.  In November 2020, BOP published a proposed rule that would have severely limited the ability of inmates to earn time credits, undercutting the effectiveness of the FSA.  In May 2021, Durbin and Grassley sent a letter to Attorney General Garland, requesting that he direct BOP to expeditiously revise the proposed rule.


As the FSA requires, the new rule will award time credits for every day that a person is compliant with assigned programming, regardless of how many hours of programming take place on a given day.  It also will allow for credits to be awarded retroactively for participation in programming beginning on the date the FSA was enacted, December 21, 2018; allow prisoners to earn credits while in a halfway house or on home detention; and limit the circumstances under which credits are lost and loosen restrictions on restoring credits to permit restoration within a one-year period.