“Good Time Bill” Could Reduce Prison Times for Environmentalists and Animal Rights Activists

by Will Potter on March 18, 2009

in Terrorism Legislation,Terrorism Prisoners

Two federal Green Scare prisoners, Jonathan Paul and Daniel McGowan.

Two federal Green Scare prisoners, Jonathan Paul and Daniel McGowan.

I have sat through so many sentencing hearings for environmentalists and animal rights activists when the judges and prosecutors have noted, and even applauded, how activists are not like “typical” defendants. By this, they mean that the defendants have solid education backgrounds (some even pursuing law degrees and master’s degrees while incarcerated), they have supportive family and friends, and they frequently have letters of support from professors and clergy.

By all accounts, judges and prosecutors often say, there is every reason to believe that these activists can, and should, be leaders in their communities.

That’s exactly why new legislation called the Good Time Bill (H.R. 1475) is so vitally needed. It will reduce the sentences of people in federal prisons by increasing the “good time” credit they can receive. The bill would impact all federal prisoners (except those serving life sentences), but Green Scare prisoners would be some of the ideal candidates.

That being said, this is an issue that impacts everyone, regardless of how you feel about environmental issues or animal rights, and regardless of how you feel about these defendants. Along the lines of my previous post, “5 Reasons Why Republicans Should Care About the Government Labeling Activists “Terrorists,” here are three reasons why every taxpayer should support the Good Time Bill:

  1. Money. The bill could save taxpayers more than $2-billion per year. It costs about $40,000 per year to keep each federal prisoner behind bars. With the greatest economic crisis since the depression, this money shouldn’t be spent on prisoners with a long, demonstrated track record of good behavior and rehabilitation.
  2. Safety. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is over 40% overcrowded and many facilities are operating at 100% capacity. Increased incentives for good behavior will keep prisons at a more controlled level, and make them safer prisoners and staff.
  3. Priorities. Nearly three out of every four federal prisoners are serving time for a non-violent offense and have no history of violence. They aren’t the only ones who suffer from being locked up: they have children, spouses, and friends whose lives have been impacted. People in federal prison deserve a second chance to make positive contributions to society.

The bill was introduced last week, and has 11 cosponsors. It’s still early in the process, which makes it a great time to get involved and take action. Visit GoodTimeBill.info for a list of things you can do.

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