Sentencing in Arizona: What Does Time off for Good Behavior Really Mean?

When a convicted criminal in the Arizona criminal system performs in a certain manner behind bars for a long period of his or
her sentence, he or she may have the opportunity of parole or probation for good behavior. Knowing how this works and when it may provide benefits is important for the individual in prison or jail in Arizona.

The Truth-in-Sentencing Laws in the state of Arizona passed into the local regulations in 1993. These revise the existing Criminal Code for the state to incorporate the good behavior of convicted criminals. Crimes and penalties committed and enacted after the year 1994 may undergo alterations. One of the significant provisional impacts that every six of seven days of time served is necessary. However, the set of mandated guidelines could override parole, early release and detention or parole. This depends on the situation and the criminal. The good behavior element provides a fifteen percent time off, but the criminal must serve up to 85 percent of time behind bars.

Good Behavior Explained

For a first
felony conviction, the person may have the opportunity to take up to fifteen percent of the time he or she receives in prison for a conviction off and proceed through an early release. The specifics require the conviction to have non-violent factors and non-aggravated elements. The criminal must serve up to 300 days for every year penalized in the prison system. However, if the matter does not involve a first felony or good behavior, the convicted person may remain behind bars for the full sentence no matter how nonviolent the crime was.

Dangerous Felonies

If the person committed a dangerous felony that could include a crime against a child, violence and aggravating factors, he or she must serve the entire sentence even if it is the first felony behind bars. In these situations in Arizona, the convicted felon will not have any opportunity for early release for good behavior. The person will remain in prison the entire time even if the penitentiary becomes overcrowded or if the person behaves better than other convicts. A lack of instances of violence does not benefit the person while any violence in prison could negatively affect the individual.

Early Release

The possibility of early release for a person in another state may provide a larger number of days or years out of prison than in Arizona. The convicted person in nonviolent or aggravated convictions must remain in prison 85 percent of the time. At the time of early release, the person may still need to proceed through probation or parole depending on the circumstances and the situation. The convict may have a probationary officer that keeps a close eye on him or her. Community supervision is also possible where the person faces a similar situation to parole with fewer restrictions than the standard probation.

Credit for Early Release in Arizona

Through the laws regarding Truth-in-Sentencing, the inmate must become eligible for early release through credits earned by certain activity and actions within the prison. To earn the full fifteen percent for good behavior, the person must perform accordingly. Eligibility exists with certain classifications with connected factors. The first and most important is the nature of the offense the criminal received a conviction for in either violent or non-violent illegal activity. If the person is a threat to the original victim or society, he or she may lose credit based on action s in the prison to prove this.

Any misconduct that results in Disciplinary Sanctions could reduce or eliminate credits for early release. Participation in recommended work within and outside of the prison often increases credit earned. Similarly, participation in treatment programs such as for alcohol or drug use will earn the person credit. Other earned credit comes from educational and training programs the person commits to while behind bars. He or she could also earn additional credit through consistently and continually earning favorable evaluations within the penitentiary system. This is possible by acting and engaging in positive programs and refraining from acting out or participating in violence within the prison.

Legal Support for Early Release in Arizona

The inmate may still make use of a lawyer and learn about early release and engage in active participation in these treatments, programs and activities. The lawyer may explain how to decrease time spent in the prison system through engagement and participation. This could earn the inmate up to fifteen percent of time subtracted from his or her sentence.

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case.

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