Blog Article 

 FSA—Talking Points 

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Michael Santos

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The Bureau of Prisons’ website offers Talking Points on the First Step Act and its implementation. The latest information tells us that on January 1, 2023, the auto-calculation of release dates will begin applying Earned Time Credits. By January 10, 2023, each person will receive an updated release date with Earned Time Credits applied.

First Step Act Time Credits

Periodically, the Bureau of Prisons updates its website. As a person who served 26 years in prison and works to improve outcomes for justice-impacted people, I consider it my job to review the agency’s website. I routinely scour the site for information we can use to show people how to help themselves.

We use resources from our nonprofit, Prison Professors, to hire subject-matter experts who retired from senior-level positions within the Bureau of Prisons or US Probation. Their experience and insight help us gather a greater understanding of how the BOP and probation agencies evolve. 

We hope that members of our community benefit from this valuable insight. They should use it to advance self-advocacy efforts and get better outcomes.

Previously, I reported on a page from the BOP website titled “First Step Act Time Credits Policy Released.” We published a blog on our website and announced the news to our community members.

Initially, we anticipated the BOP would re-compute release dates in December, 2022. The new dates should have included all Earned Time Credits, as published in Program Statement 5410.01 titled: “First Step Act of 2018 — Time Credits: Procedures for Implementation of 18 U.S.C. § 3632(d)(4).”

Yet as of today, December 18, 2022, the BOP has not updated release dates. We anticipated a delay—but had confidence the updates would take place.

Yesterday, December 17, 2022, a community member sent news that he found information on the TruLinks website in his prison. The latest information advises all people in federal prison to complete their risk-assessment surveys before the end of this year. On January 1, the BOP will start the computation process. By January 10, 2023, all people in federal prison will receive a revised release date, and the updated computation dates will include the Earned Time Credits. The agency will update computation dates every month to reflect the status of Earned Time Credits.

I reached out to our subject-matter experts, and two people confirmed the news.

This morning, I returned to the Bureau of Prisons’ website to search for more confirmation that all people in federal prison would receive an updated computation sheet by January 10, 2023. I saw a link that I’d never seen before. It’s called “Talking Points.”

The “Talking Points” memorandum does not include a signature line, so we don’t know who authored the Memorandum. But anyone can see the Memorandum by clicking the links below:

  • Blog: 


  • Talking Points:


The Talking Points Memorandum clarifies that the BOP will begin auto-calculating First Step Act Time Credits in January 2023. We publish relevant parts of the Talking Points Memorandum below:

  • A grace period will be available until December 31, 2022, so that inmates who had not completed all needs assessments or who had declined programs may try to address this status. During this period, the agency will work to assist all inmates in completing their needs assessments, and if completed by December 31, 2022, they will earn available FTCs.

·       We encourage members of our community to pursue a self-directed approach.

·       Staff members may or may not be available “to assist all inmates.”

·       For this reason, each person should review the TruLincs computer to confirm he or she has completed all surveys before December 31, 2022.

  • Beginning January 1, 2023, full automation will begin, and any incomplete needs assessments or any declined to participate codes will lead to the inmate not earning FTCs in accordance with the federal regulations.
  • Staff should advise inmates to correct any issue which currently impacts the earning of time credits. Failure to resolve these issues by the deadline will result in inmates being ineligible to earn or apply the time credits earned when the full auto-calculation resumes (and accounts for program declines and missing needs assessments).
  • While this information will be posted to inmates on TruLincs, Unit Managers are primarily responsible for communications with the inmate population regarding FSA time credit implementation information via town halls, open-house hours, etc.
  • Three additional changes are being made to how credits are calculated:

·       First, inmates will soon be able to see all potential FTC they may earn over the course of their sentence at their first Unit Team meeting. This number is only an estimate; it is not a guarantee and may change depending on the inmate’s successful participation in programming or non-participation.

·       Second, inmates will be able to earn credit while in administrative detention. In doing so, it is expected that inmates will continue participating in available programming opportunities provided to them.

·       Finally, inmates will be able to continue earning credit while in the community, so long as they continue to successfully comply with all rules and procedures of pre-release custody.

  • While this information wil be posted to inmates on TruLincs, Unit Managers are primarily responsible for communications with the inmate population regarding FSA time credit implementation information via town halls, open-house hours, etc.

We will continue searching for information and sharing what we learn with all community members. Although we would have liked to have seen the full implementation of the First Step Act much earlier, we’re encouraged by this Talking Points Memorandum we found on the BOP website.

The Memorandum I referenced applies to people who qualify to earn Federal Time Credits. I will continue working to advocate for all people in federal prison. It’s in the best interest of society for all people to qualify for Earned Time Credits. 

Creating opportunities for people to work toward earning freedom will go a long way toward improving the culture in federal prisons. Programs such as parole, or Earned Time Credits, help to improve outcomes for all justice-impacted people.

We encourage people to subscribe to our general newsletter at [email protected] and to have family members visit our website at Anyone can learn more about how we continue working to improve our nation’s federal prison system outcomes. To succeed, we need help from our community members. While serving time, people can:

  • Avoid behavior that leads to disciplinary infractions,
  • Participate in programs that administrators require,
  • Document their journey of preparing for success after prison.
  • Share that information with others by memorializing the journey.

The books and resources tab on our website offers ideas that people can pursue.

Remember that it’s never too late and never too early to prepare for a better outcome.

With wishes for every person’s happy holiday season, on behalf of our entire team at Prison Professors, we send our warmest regards.


Michael Santos

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