State Jail Diligent Participation Credit
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Offenders serving a sentence for a state jail felony currently do not earn good conduct time for time served in the facility. However, with the passing of House Bill 2649 in the 82nd Texas legislative session, some state jail offenders may be awarded diligent participation credit by their sentencing judge. Any offender convicted of a state jail felony offense committed on or after September 1, 2011, may be eligible for time credit based on diligent participation in programs such as work, education, and/or treatment.
Diligent participation is defined as:
- successful completion of an educational, vocational, or treatment program;
- progress toward successful completion of an educational, vocational, or treatment program that was interrupted by illness, injury, or another circumstance outside the control of the defendant; and
- active involvement in a work program.
The law requires the TDCJ to report the number of days an offender diligently participates to the sentencing judge no later than 30 days prior to the offender completing 80% of their sentence. Once a state jail felon who is serving a sentence for an offense committed on or after September 1, 2011, is received by the TDCJ, the agency shall report one day of diligent participation for each day in custody, with the following exceptions. Offenders found guilty of a disciplinary offense for:
- refusing to work;
- refusing to attend school or complete school assignments; or
- refusing to attend or participate in a required treatment program.
These offenders shall not be eligible for diligent participation credit for the day(s) of the refusal. Also, offenders assigned to state jail level 4 (J4) custody, state jail level 5 (J5) custody, or administrative segregation custody are ineligible for diligent participation credit.
Diligent participation credits are intended to provide an incentive for offenders to be active in rehabilitation while providing a management tool for security staff. The TDCJ will provide a progress report to the sentencing judge(s), which will include information such as name, date of birth, offense, sentence begin date, current discharge date, and diligent participation days. The sentencing judge(s) may credit up to 20% of the offender’s sentence for days served as long as the offender was diligently participating in a program and not subject to disciplinary action. The judge is not required to give credit for each or any day of diligent participation. The diligent participation credit, if any, shall be submitted by the sentencing judge to the TDCJ. The TDCJ shall recalculate the maximum discharge date and send notification to the offender.
For offenses committed on or after or September 1, 2015, the judge at the time of sentencing, has another option. The judge may specify the offender is "presumptively entitled" to any credit earned by diligently participating. Credits due will automatically be awarded to the offender on the 45th day before the offender serves 80%. However, an offender who is not "presumptively entitled" or is so designated but is subject to disciplinary action during incarceration or otherwise loses a day of eligibility, will still have a progress report sent to the web application for consideration by the sentencing judge. In these cases, if credits are not awarded using the web application, the offenders will serve their full sentence.
The TDCJ shall provide a secure interactive web-based system. This system shall notify sentencing judges of state jail offender’s participation in programs, allowing the judge to determine whether to award credit for diligent participation.