Guidance and Counseling
- Earned Eligibility/Merit Time/Presumptive Release Program/Supplemental Merit Time/ Limited Credit Time Allowance Programs
- Incarcerated Veterans Program
- Sex Offender Counseling and Treatment Program (SOCTP)
EARNED ELIGIBILITY / MERIT TIME / PRESUMPTIVE RELEASE / SUPPLEMENTAL MERIT TIME / LIMITED CREDIT TIME ALLOWANCE PROGRAMS
The concept of Earned Eligibility is based upon the premise that an incarcerated individual who successfully participates in assigned programs will be more likely to make a successful transition to his/her family and the community upon release. Inmates granted Certificates of Earned Eligibility prior to their Parole Board appearance shall be granted Parole release at the expiration of their minimum sentence or as authorized under the Shock Incarceration Program unless the Board of Parole determines that their release is not compatible with the welfare of society.
Merit Time can be granted to certain non-violent inmates who have exhibited an acceptable disciplinary history and have achieved significant programmatic benchmarks. These inmates may be granted a one-sixth reduction off their minimum sentence. Merit Time candidates must have successfully pursued their earned eligibility/program plan in addition to having met specific Merit Time criteria.
Presumptive Release allows inmates who are serving indeterminate sentences for certain nonviolent crimes and who have no history of violence, to be released to community supervision without the necessity of a Parole Board appearance, provided that they have maintained positive disciplinary and program records and have not filed a frivolous lawsuit.
Supplemental Merit Time allows for inmates serving indeterminate sentences for Class AII through Class E drug felony offenses which were committed prior to December 27, 2004 to qualify for an additional one-sixth reduction off their minimum sentence, in addition to the conventional one-sixth merit time benefit.
Limited Credit Time Allowance (LCTA), effective in 2009, is a six month benefit for most offenders who are not eligible for traditional Merit Time. Certain offenders serving either a determinate or indeterminate sentence for a crime that is not a merit eligible offense may be eligible to earn a six-month LCTA benefit against their sentence provided certain significant programmatic accomplishments have been achieved (completion of one of nine LCTA program criteria), they have successfully pursued their earned eligibility/program plan, they have not committed a serious disciplinary infraction or maintained an overall poor institutional record, and have not filed a frivolous lawsuit(s).
- To ensure that all inmates have program plans which address their needs in an appropriate manner
- To determine which eligible inmates should be issued Certificates of Earned Eligibility prior to their Parole Board appearances.
- To determine which eligible inmates should be issued Certificates of Presumptive Release and therefore released to parole supervision without the necessity of a personal appearance before the Board of Parole.
- To determine which eligible inmates should be issued Certificates of Supplemental Merit Time, Merit Time, or LCTA and therefore become eligible for early release to the community, utilizing either the Presumptive Release process or a conventional Parole Board appearance.
The Earned Eligibility Program, established through legislation in July 1987 and defined in Correction Law Section 805, applies to all inmates serving an indeterminate sentence of eight years or less. The law also mandates a work and treatment plan (program/earned eligibility plan) for all inmates.
Merit Time, established in 1997 and defined in Correction Law Section 803, allows
for certain non-violent offenders serving indeterminate sentences to earn a possible one-sixth reduction
in their minimum term if they have achieved certain programmatic objectives and have avoided serious
disciplinary charges. Additionally, as a result of the Drug Law Reform Act of 2004, inmates sentenced to
determinate sentences for Class A-II through Class E felonies as defined in Article 220 and 220 of the
Penal Law, may receive a one-seventh reduction of the term imposed by the court.
In order to earn merit time, an inmate must successfully perform and pursue his or her assigned Earned Eligibility Plan or Program Plan and, while serving their current sentence, and either:
- earn a general equivalency diploma (GED), or
- receive an alcohol and substance abuse treatment certificate, or
- receive a vocational trade certificate following at least six months of programming in that program, or
- perform 400 hours or more of service as part of a community work crew/outside assignment.
Presumptive Release for nonviolent inmates was enacted into law by the Legislature, effective April 1, 2003, as a part of Chapter 62 of the Laws of 2003. Inmates eligible for Presumptive Release are, by legal definition, nonviolent (Correction Law 806). Eligibility is based on an inmate's entire criminal history, alien status as well as the status of outstanding warrants, detainers, commitments and open charges. In addition, Presumptive Release eligibility is similar to the established eligibility requirements of the Earned Eligibility and Merit Time programs.
The Supplemental Merit Time allowance was established by the Drug Law Reform Act of 2004 and allows for eligible inmates to qualify for an additional one-sixth reduction of their minimum sentence if they meet all of the existing eligibility requirements of Earned Eligibility (Correction Law Section 805) and Merit time (Correction Law Section 803) and if they either:
- satisfy two of the four merit time program objectives set forth in Correction Law Section 803 (1)(d) OR
- satisfy one of the four merit time programs and successfully maintain employment while in a work release program for a period of not less then three months.
Pursuant to Correction Law 803-b, LCTA for eligible offenders serving an
indeterminate sentence with a maximum life term will result in consideration for parole release six
months prior to his or her initial parole eligibility date. In the event such an eligible offender
has appeared before his or her initial Parole Board and been given a reappearance date and thereafter
is issued an LCTA certificate, then that notification will be forwarded to the Parole Board. The
Parole Board may then consider this achievement at the offender’s next parole board reappearance. In
the case of any other eligible offender who is serving a determinate sentence, or an indeterminate
sentence whose maximum expiration is not life, such offender may qualify for LCTA Conditional Release
six months before the regular Conditional Release date.
In order to earn LCTA, an eligible inmate must have completed one of the nine significant program accomplishments listed below during the current term of incarceration.
- A minimum of two years successful participation in college programming.
- A Master’s of Professional Studies degree issued at Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
- A minimum of two years successful participation as an Inmate Program Associate (IPA).
- Certification from the NYS Department of Labor for successful participation in an apprenticeship program.
- A minimum of two years successful work as an Inmate Hospice Aide.
- A minimum of two years successful completion in the Puppies Behind Bars Program.
- Successfully worked in the Division of Correctional Industries Optical Program for a minimum of two years and received a certification as an Optician from the American Board of Opticianry.
- Received an asbestos handling certificate from the Department of Labor and a minimum of eighteen months work in the Division of Correctional Industries Asbestos Abatement Program as a Hazardous Materials Removal Worker or a Hazardous Materials Removal Group Leader.
- Successfully completed the course curriculum and passed the minimum competency screening process performance exam for Sign Language Interpreter and a minimum of one year of work as a Sign Language Interpreter for deaf inmates.
Earned Eligibility – each eligible inmate will be evaluated prior to his/her Parole Board appearance. The determination notice will be delivered to the inmate prior to the Parole Board appearance.
Merit Time – each eligible inmate will be evaluated prior to his/her merit time Parole Board appearance. Determinations will be based on an evaluation of each eligible inmate’s program performance, progress and attendance as well as his/her overall record of institutional behavior. The Merit Time determination notice will be delivered to the inmate approximately one week prior to the scheduled Parole Board appearance.
Presumptive Release Initial EEP – each eligible inmate will be evaluated prior to his/her Initial Parole Board appearance. Determinations are based on an evaluation of each eligible inmate’s program performance, progress and attendance as well as his/her overall record of institutional behavior. In addition, a thorough review of the inmate’s criminal history will occur to determine appropriateness for Presumptive Release. A denial for Presumptive Release is not an indication of an inmate’s suitability for possible release on community supervision. It is, however, a determination that the parole release decision can best be made following a personal appearance before the Board of Parole.
Presumptive Release Merit – each eligible inmate will be evaluated prior to his/her Merit Parole Board appearance. Determinations will be based on an evaluation of each eligible inmate’s program performance, progress and attendance as well as his/her overall record of institutional behavior. In addition, a thorough review of the inmate’s criminal history will occur to determine appropriateness for Presumptive Release.
Supplemental Merit Time – each eligible inmate will be evaluated prior to his/her Supplemental Merit Parole Board appearance.
Presumptive Release Supplemental Merit –each eligible inmate will be evaluated prior to his/her Supplemental Merit Parole Board appearance. Determinations are based on an evaluation of each eligible inmate’s program performance, progress and attendance as well as his/her overall record of institutional behavior. In addition, a thorough review of the inmate’s criminal history will occur to determine appropriateness for Presumptive Release.
Limited Credit Time Allowance – each eligible inmate will be screened to determine reviewability seven months prior to the LCTA eligibility date. As satisfaction of an LCTA program requirement requires two years of participation, eligible inmates will only be screened when they have been in DOCCS custody for two years. Inmates who are reviewable for LCTA initiate the process by completing and submitting an LCTA application. Facility staff review each inmate’s application to determine if the offender has satisfied the LCTA criteria based upon program performance, progress and attendance. Inmates who are recommended at the facility level to be issued LCTA receive a determination following a Central Office review process. Inmates who are denied at the facility level have the option of appealing the LCTA denial to the Commissioner.
All facilities conduct reviews of eligible inmates.
The Department’s philosophy embodies a commitment to the development of the whole person.
This commitment is demonstrated by the establishment and maintenance of a professional relationship between the Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator and the inmate.
The Department’s policy is to provide comprehensive counseling to inmates so that they may become aware that there are alternatives they may choose in order to take responsibility for their lives. The counseling helps inmates understand that they have choices, can change, and have the ability to control their own lives while accepting full responsibility for the consequences of their behavior. The Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator has the obligation to advise and prescribe program activities based on assessment of the inmate’s needs and interests and available facility resources. For counseling related matters, the Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator is the primary person through whom contacts with other Departmental Units, outside agencies, and other individuals are best channeled.
Motivational Interviewing, an evidence based practice, is a client centered style of counseling. Motivational Interviewing recognizes resistance to change and relapse into criminal behaviors are realities for many and should be acknowledged and addressed as part of the change process. There is respect for the inmate’s autonomy and choice, expression of empathy, open ended questions, and affirmations summaries. The goal is to understand the motives inmates have for addressing their problems, to gather information to plan their care, and build and strengthen their readiness for change. The department continues to invest in enhancing the interviewing and counseling skills of the Offender Rehabilitation Coordinators.
INCARCERATED VETERANS PROGRAM
The Incarcerated Veterans Program is designed to address the readjustment and reentry needs of veterans returning to society following a period of incarceration.
Level I - Information
All correctional facilities provide Level I services ensuring that veterans obtain a copy of their DD214, Military Discharge papers, and that appropriate referrals are made through the Veterans Administration (VA) for ongoing treatment, vocational training, education, housing and employment when the veteran is released from incarceration. Arrangements can be made for compensation exams while the veteran is incarcerated.
In addition to the Level I services provided, Level II facilities also have a Veterans Inmate Organization or a Veterans Educational Group that meets on a regular basis providing education, camaraderie and support to each other. There is often a community group involved, such as an American Legion or a VFW Post. These facilities often hold a Veterans Day Recognition Ceremony and Banquet to honor their service to their country.
Level III facilities provide the Veterans Residential Therapeutic Program. These are six month therapeutic programs that address readjustment issues with a focus on continuing substance abuse recovery, anger and aggression management, PTSD, personal enhancement and provide contact with community providers. The VRTP offers veterans the opportunity to be housed together in residential settings. When nearing release from incarceration, referrals are made through the VA to appropriate levels of care as determined in the program.
- To help incarcerated veterans become aware of their entitlements and benefits and available community resources.
- To assist them in verifying their veteran status.
- To provide counseling to address service related problems.
- To provide access to veterans service providers in the community.
Informational seminars for veterans related issues are provided as the need arises. Sessions are scheduled when representatives from agencies, community organizations and professional groups are available.
The duration of the veterans counseling groups in the Self-Help level varies by facility. Duration and intensity of counseling groups depend upon the program.
- Must be a veteran and be able to produce a copy of Form DD214.
- Willingness to participate in the activities and groups.
- Commitment to follow through on submitting necessary paperwork and making contacts.
- Attendance at all information group sessions.
- Group participation – quantity and quality of interaction.
- Follow-through on submitting papers to secure benefits and other veterans related matters.
- Work on achieving goal(s) and helping other incarcerated veterans achieve theirs.
Level I – All Facilities
Level II – Attica, Auburn, Collins, Elmira, Franklin, Green Haven, Groveland, Gouverneur, Marcy, Mid-State, Mohawk, Sullivan, Shawangunk and Wyoming.
Level III – Groveland, Mid-State and Gouverneur.
SEX OFFENDER COUNSELING AND TREATMENT PROGRAM (SOCTP)
The Sex Offender Counseling and Treatment Program (SOCTP) is a comprehensive program of counseling and treatment offered by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision for convicted sex offenders and other offenders whom the Department identifies as likely to benefit from sex offender counseling and treatment based upon a study of their background. The SOCTP is offered to offenders who have been identified as low, moderate/high, and high risk to reoffend. Offenders are assigned a risk level for treatment using a comprehensive process that utilizes both actuarial tools and clinical assessment. In accordance with established best practice standards and in compliance with the Sex Offender Management & Treatment Act (SOMTA), offenders will have the opportunity to participate in the program as time permits and according to their assessed risk level. Once an offender is placed in the program, an individualized treatment plan will be created based on the participants’static and dynamic risk factors that will guide the offender’s treatment. Within the moderate/high risk program, the duration of services delivered will vary based upon the assessed risk factors of the individual participant. For additional program details, please see the Guidelines 679 KB.
9 – 12 months
15 – 18 months
- Incarceration for a sex offense or any crime where the description of the incident contains sexual offending behavior.
- Guilty findings at a tier hearing per offender standards of behavior for any sexually abusive and/or assaultive act.
- Parole violation for sexual offending behavior or offender returned to custody who was originally assessed prior to release as needing to participate in the Sex Offender Counseling and Treatment Program and did not complete the program or whose violation characteristics meet the Department’s standard for required re-admittance to the program.
Assessment of Progress
- Attendance - attend on a regular basis.
- Group participation - quantity and quality of interaction.
- Working on achieving program goal and helping other members.
- Treatment team approach.
- Willingness to identify and address problems related to sexual behavior.
- Willingness to employ alternative thinking to alleviate behavior problems.