Early release – two words that bring optimism to non-violent prisoners serving time behind bars. In the legal community, it is commonly understood that prisoners must serve 85% of their sentences prior to release since the adoption of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Federal prisoners currently can earn up to 54 days off of their sentences each year if they follow prison rules and are well-behaved. This “good time credit” encourages and rewards rehabilitation in prison and discourages rule-breaking. It also shortens sentences, reduces prison overpopulation, and saves taxpayers money.
In the United States, serving whole sentences is the exception rather than the rule, a fact that comes much to the surprise and dismay of perhaps some All About the Tea readers.
It has been confirmed that just days after Teresa Giudice began her 15-month prison stint, the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star will get an early release from the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Conn. Her attorney, James L. Leonard Jr., did not mince words when he openly predicted on “Good Morning America” recently that his client would be released early.
“Typically, you have to do 85 percent of that sentence, so that calculation comes out to a little under 13 months. Our projections are that if nothing changes with her sentence she should be released sometime in early December.”
In actuality, Teresa will be released on Feb. 5, 2016, per the “inmate locator” function on the Bureau of Prisons’ website. She will be released about two months (54 days to be exact) shy of her 15-month sentence. This means that now the family will be reunited before Joe Giudice begins his four-plus year sentence in March of 2016.
Bear in mind Teresa was sentenced in October for bankruptcy fraud. The Giudices owe another $200,000 restitution payment, along with millions of dollars to creditors associated with their 2009 failed bankruptcy filing. Will Teresa follow the rules during early release, or based on her pattern of poor behavior and bad judgment will she break the rules and be sent back to prison?
Think of early release as a kind of probation. Teresa will be under supervision and be checked on periodically. It is a period of transition. People sentenced to prison sometimes are motivated to turn their lives around if they can get out earlier for good behavior. In general, prisoners in early release programs may be required to attend classes on anger management or go to Alcoholics Anonymous (“AA”).
If Teresa does not exhibit poor behavior, pose a threat to public safety or violate prison rules, she’ll be home in time to make homemade Valentine’s Day cookies – the Skinny Italian kind – in 2016 with her four daughters. However, upon early release, she will have to meet certain conditions and if she violates any condition, she will not pass go and she will be sent directly back to jail.
Americans should understand that the impetus behind early release is not some altruistic urge by lawmakers and prison officials to show their love for inmates. Instead early release programs take place in part because of prison overcrowding and limited resources.
Do you think Teresa’s prison sentence should have been reduced already? I know we here at All About the Tea are eagerly anticipating your remarks about this highly polarizing topic.
Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.