The First Step Act’s PATTERN Risk Assessment Tool 

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Male Pattern Risk Calculator:

Are you eligible for Earned Time Credits (ETCs)? Do you know how ETCs can influence your release date?

We publish the information below to help members of our community understand how ETCs can advance release dates from prison.

  • It’s possible to advance a release date by up to one year.
  • It’s possible to earn ETC credits that open access to more time in a halfway house or home confinement—overriding limitations of the Second Chance Act.

Earned Time Credits relate to the First Step Act (FSA). With the FSA, members of Congress mandated the BOP to put more emphasis on preparing people for success upon release. As a starting point, the BOP had to create a risk-assessment tool. The risk-assessment tool would gauge a person’s likelihood to recidivate.

The BOP named its risk-assessment tool the PATTERN. It created one tool for males, and a separate tool for females. We encourage members of our community to scroll below and complete a survey. Based on the person’s inputs, the calculator will assess the PATTERN score.

To learn more about the First Step Act, we encourage you to visit the BOP’s website with this link. Our team at Prison Professors will continue to publish updates on what’s happening around the country. 

To qualify for ETC consideration, the individual must first determine:

Does my offense qualify?

The Bureau of Prisons published a webpage to show the different violent offenses that do not qualify for Earned Time Credits. This link will shows the list of offenses that do not qualify for Earned Time Credits.

Do I have a low or minimum PATTERN score?

Variables that include dates, age, and behavior in prison influences the PATTERN score. Score may change over time, depending upon different variables. To qualify for Earned Time Credits, a person must score low or minimum on the PATTERN score.

To compute your PATTERN score, we encourage members of our community to work through the survey. Input the variables. Enter different responses to the questions. Some variables would change the PATTERN score.

Through all our coursework, we strive to help people work toward the best possible outcome. To take a first step, learn more about the First Step Act, and work toward a minimum score on the PATTERN risk assessment tool.

Select one, then Scroll Down to Respond to Each Question:

1. Current Age

LResearchers have shown that as a person ages, the person becomes less likely to engage in criminal behavior. For that reason, age influences the PATTERN score.

2. Walsh / Conviction

This factor relates to the Adam Walsh action to protect children. If you do not have an offense related to the sexual exploitation of children, you may check no on this box.

3. Violent

When Congress passed the First Step Act, the legislation excluded a series of violent offenses from being eligible for ETC credit under the First Step Act. If you do not have a conviction for any of the offenses on this list, you may advance prospects for liberty.

4. Criminal History Points

The US Federal Sentencing Guidelines includes a table that the US Sentencing Commission created. The vertical scale on the table shows the offense level, and the horizontal scale shows the criminal history score. The presentence investigation report will show what the probation officer recommends as a criminal history, but ultimately, the judge will make a finding on the criminal history score. To learn more, read chapter four of the US Sentencing guidelines.

5. History of Escapes

If your criminal record does not show a history of escapes, then you can select no on this static factor.

6. History of Violence

The PATTERN risk assessment tool, like the Custody and Classification Score, measures the length of time since a documented history of violence. Make the appropriate selection to calculate an accurate score.

7. Education Score

The more a person works to earning academic or vocational credentials, the more evidence a person builds to show that he or she wants to live as a contributing citizen. The PATTERN score improves when a person has earned high school equivalency.

8. Drug Program Status

If the presentence investigation report shows a history of substance abuse, the person becomes eligible for programs that the BOP operates to treat substance abuse. One is the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) and another is the non-residential drug abuse program. Participation in either of these programs will influence the PATTERN score.

9. How many incident reports of any kind have you received over the past 120 months?

In other areas of our website, we’ve covered the importance of avoiding disciplinary infractions. Select the appropriate response below.

10. How many Serious Incident Reports have you received over the past 120 months?

The BOP considers incident reports of 100 series or 200 series to be serious. Select the appropriate response below.

11. How much time has passed since the last incident report?

The passing of time after a person gets an incident report will influence the PATTERN score. Select the appropriate response.

13. Have you refused to participate in the financial responsibility program (FRP)?

In a previous webinar, we emphasized the importance of participating in the FRP program. Please learn more about how this program will influence your journey through prison by watching this webinar.

14. How many programs have you completed

The BOP publishes information on the First Step Act Approved Programs. This link will show the programs that the agency authorizes for Earned Time Credits. We will update this link as more information becomes available. To learn more, we recommend that you subscribe to our newsletter. Click the appropriate number below.

15. Are you participating in work programs?

The BOP offers work programs that can lead to vocational certificates, or programs that benefit the system, including Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR). Select the appropriate number to show how many you completed or participated in.


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