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Ninth Circuit Approves Prorated Good Time Under §3624(b)(1)

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP’s) interpretation of the maximum good time credits a federal prisoner may receive under 18 USC § 3624(b).

Under § 3624(b)(1)(1995), a federal prisoner receives 54 days of good time at the end of each year of imprisonment. By rule, “this amount is prorated when the time served…for the sentence during the year is less than a full year.” Pursuant to a BOP Program Statement, “a prisoner does not ‘earn’ good time credits until after serving that time...To earn 54 days of credit, a prisoner must first complete 365 days of incarceration. The BOP prorates awards during the last year that a prisoner is incarcerated, awarding 0.148 days credit (54/365=0.148) per day actually served that year.”

Sabil Mujahid was sentenced to ten years in prison. The BOP determined that he was entitled to 470 days of good time credit. Mujahid, however, reads § 3624(b)(1) as awarding good time based on the sentence imposed rather than only upon the portion of the sentence actually served. Under this reading, Mujahid would be entitled to 540 days of credit (i.e., 54x10=540), 70 days more than BOP allowed.

Mujahid filed a federal habeas corpus petition. The district court denied the petition. While the appeal was pending, Mujahid was released. The Ninth Circuit rejected the government’s arguments that the court lacked jurisdiction and that the case was mooted by Mujahid’s release. It found that Gunderson v. Hood, 268 F3d 1149 (9th Cir. 2001) controlled the mootness issue, and rejected the government’s attempts to distinguish Gunderson, The Court then concluded that Mujahid’s interpretation of § 3624(b) is at odds with Pacheco-Camacho v. Hood, 272 F3d 1266 (9th Cir. 2001). It determined that it was bound by Pacheco-Camacho and “Mujahid’s attempts to distinguish Pacheco-Camacho are unpersuasive.” See: Mujahid v. Daniels, 413 F3d 991 (9th Cir. 2005).

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Related legal case

Mujahid v. Daniels