SCOTUS Hears Federal Good Time Issue

The Supreme Court will spell out how the federal prison system is to calculate the credits that inmates receive for good conduct while behind bars. The issue in Barber, v. Thomas, Supreme Court No. 09-5201 is how to interpret the federal law that provides up to 54 days “at the end of each year of the prisoner’s term of imprisonment.” Bureau of Prisons officials interpret “term of imprisonment” to mean time served, not the sentence imposed — a policy that results in seven fewer days of available credit for each year of the actual sentence, the petition argued. Lower courts are split on the question. To read the certiorari petition in this case, click here. To read the District Court opinion in the companion case of Tablada, click here. The Ninth Circuit opinion affirming in that case is available here here. The Ninth's order in the present cases, Barber and Jihad-Black, is summary without opinion, based on Tablada. Tablada's certiorari petition is still pending in case 08-11034.