In 1993, as part of its sentencing reform effort, the Texas State Legislature created a new classification of offense called a State Jail felony. Designed primarily as a punishment level for low level drug and property offenders, the maximum punishment was two years.
One of the more disappointing features of the State Jail felony was its provision that a state jail offender had to serve their time without good time credit or hope of parole. State jail time was served day for day. Although there is still no provision for good time credit or parole with respect to state jail offenses, there is a pathway to shortening the time that a defendant will actually do behind bars.
In 2011, the legislature passed a statute known as HB 2649. This new statute provided for what is called “diligent participation credit”. Through this provision; an inmate may reduce his time of actual incarceration by up to 20% by his active involvement in a work program or completion of an educational, vocational or treatment program. This provision is sometimes referred to as the 80-20 provision.
State Jail diligent participation credit works like this. Not later than the 30th day before a defendant has served 80% of his sentence, the trial judge in the case will receive a report from the Texas Department of Corrections telling the Judge how many days during the execution of the sentence the defendant has “diligently participated” in approved activities. The trial Judge may then credit or reduce the defendant’s sentence by one day for each day of “diligent participation” the defendant has performed. There is an important caveat. This credit cannot be earned while an inmate is subject to disciplinary action. Additionally, it is important to know that any credit received under this statute is deemed to be a privilege, and the contents of the report sent to the Judge is not subject to challenge by an inmate.
At the Law Firm of Daniel and Hudson, we know how to prepare our clients who are facing State Jail time to be able to minimize their time of incarceration and to persuade the Judge in their case to award the maximum amount of credit that is allowed by law. We hope you will give us a chance to help you. Call us first at 210.222.2297.