[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 6 (Friday, January 9, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 1380-1382]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-00144]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 6 / Friday, January 9, 2015 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 1380]]



DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

Bureau of Prisons

28 CFR Parts 523 and 544

[BOP-1164-P]
RIN 1120-AB64


Good Conduct Time: Alternative Adult Literacy Programs

AGENCY: Bureau of Prisons, Justice.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In this document, the Bureau of Prisons (Bureau) proposes to 
amend its rules on Good Conduct Time (GCT) and Literacy. The purpose of 
this proposed rule is to provide effective literacy programming 
alternatives to the General Educational Development (GED) program that 
more effectively meet the specialized needs of inmates. This will also 
have the added benefit of reducing lengthy waiting lists for the GED 
program. This proposed rule will exempt inmates from the ``satisfactory 
progress'' provision of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement 
Act of 1994 (VCCLEA) and/or the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 
(PLRA) if they participate in an ``authorized alternative adult 
literacy program.'' The Bureau's Literacy Program rules, which 
currently contemplate only GED attainment, would also be revised to 
allow for ``authorized alternative adult literacy programs.'' This 
change means that inmates participating in ``authorized alternative 
adult literacy programs'' will not need to demonstrate satisfactory 
progress toward earning a GED credential to be considered for the full 
benefits of GCT. Other than the change regarding inmates in 
``authorized alternative adult literacy programs,'' we propose no 
further substantive changes.

DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before March 10, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Rules Unit, Office of General Counsel, Bureau of Prisons, 
320 First Street NW., Washington, DC 20534.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Qureshi, Office of General 
Counsel, Bureau of Prisons, phone (202) 307-2105.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Posting of Public Comments

    Please note that all comments received are considered part of the 
public record and made available for public inspection online at 
www.regulations.gov. Such information includes personal identifying 
information (such as your name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by 
the commenter.
    If you want to submit personal identifying information (such as 
your name, address, etc.) as part of your comment, but do not want it 
to be posted online, you must include the phrase ``PERSONAL IDENTIFYING 
INFORMATION'' in the first paragraph of your comment. You must also 
locate all the personal identifying information you do not want posted 
online in the first paragraph of your comment and identify what 
information you want redacted.
    If you want to submit confidential business information as part of 
your comment but do not want it to be posted online, you must include 
the phrase ``CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS INFORMATION'' in the first paragraph 
of your comment. You must also prominently identify confidential 
business information to be redacted within the comment. If a comment 
contains so much confidential business information that it cannot be 
effectively redacted, all or part of that comment may not be posted 
www.regulations.gov.
    Personal identifying information identified and located as set 
forth above will be placed in the agency's public docket file, but not 
posted online. Confidential business information identified and located 
as set forth above will not be placed in the public docket file. If you 
wish to inspect the agency's public docket file in person by 
appointment, please see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT paragraph.

The Proposed Rule

    In this document, the Bureau of Prisons (Bureau) proposes to amend 
its rules on Good Conduct Time (GCT) and Literacy. The purpose of this 
proposed rule is to provide effective literacy programming alternatives 
to the General Educational Development (GED) program that more 
effectively meet the specialized needs of inmates. This will also have 
the added benefit of reducing lengthy waiting lists for the GED 
program.
    Title 18 U.S.C. 3624(b)(1) provides that in awarding good conduct 
credit, the Bureau must consider whether the inmate has earned or is 
making satisfactory progress towards earning a high school diploma or 
equivalent degree. The Director is given authority to make exemptions 
to the GED requirements as he deems appropriate by 18 U.S.C. 
3624(b)(4).
    Through the Bureau's Literacy Program, inmates are prepared to 
compete for available jobs and cope with post-release community, 
family, and other responsibilities. In this proposed rule, the Director 
invokes his authority in 18 U.S.C. 3624(b)(4) to make an exemption to 
the GED requirements in order to provide an alternative for inmates 
whose needs are not met by the GED program while also providing relief 
to the growing demand for Literacy Programs.
    By amending 28 CFR 523.20 and 544.71, inmates participating in 
``authorized alternative adult literacy programs'' will receive the 
full benefit of GCT provisions while also obtaining the maximum 
possible benefit from a literacy program that best meets their unique 
needs.
    Title 18 U.S.C. 3624(b)(1) requires the Bureau to consider whether 
an inmate has earned or is making satisfactory progress toward earning 
a high school diploma or an equivalent degree in order to award good 
conduct credit to that inmate. If inmates are not making satisfactory 
progress toward earning a high school diploma or equivalent degree, 
they may suffer negative consequences to their GCT credit. Although we 
made extensive efforts to enroll as many inmates in the Bureau's 
Literacy Programs (described in 28 CFR part 544) as possible, the 
number of inmates waiting to enroll in adult literacy programs as of 
October 2010, was 17,609 or approximately 11% of the Bureau's inmate 
population.
    Further, it became apparent that the Bureau's Literacy Program was 
not meeting the specific needs of certain groups of inmates. For 
instance, according to officials from the Mexican

[[Page 1381]]

Ministry of Education, GED certificates are not accepted by Mexican 
employers and government. The Mexican Secundaria Program (the 
compulsory education for Mexican nationals) is a better alternative 
reentry program for inmates who will be released to Mexico than the 
U.S. based GED program. Therefore, for deportable aliens (Mexican 
nationals and other nationalities) whose primary language is Spanish 
and whose release country accepts the Mexican Secundaria certificates, 
the Mexican Secundaria Program is the better, more practical option.
    For this reason, the Bureau offers the Mexican Secundaria program 
to inmates as described above. The Bureau does not intend the Mexican 
Secundaria Program to be a literacy option for U.S. citizen inmates. 
U.S. citizen inmates are required to take the GED program to enhance 
their opportunities for successful post-release employment because GED 
certificates are the basic academic requirement for most entry-level 
jobs in the United States.
    Another group of inmates whose needs may not be met by the GED 
program are those inmates who face cognitive challenges. Such inmates 
have unique intellectual and employment needs and may have already 
reached their optimum level of academic achievement. Under current 
regulations, inmates whose cognitive abilities have precluded them from 
being able to complete the GED have tended to drop out of the GED 
program or otherwise receive an exemption for not showing gain in 
academic achievement scores, often after a prolonged period of 
enrollment. These inmates would be better served by giving them the 
option of participating in ``authorized alternative adult literacy 
programs'' which would teach them to function successfully (in society 
and while incarcerated) by assisting them in the development of the 
life skills needed to manage their lives on a daily basis in a 
respective residential or community setting.
    Groups of inmates like the two described above have needs that are 
not addressed by the GED program. Inmates in both groups who 
participate in Bureau ``authorized alternative adult literacy 
programs'' would effectively receive the benefit of the program to the 
extent that their unique circumstances permit, but despite this 
accomplishment, they would not, under the current regulatory structure, 
receive the full amount of GCT that their peers who are able to 
participate in the GED program could receive.
    This proposed rule will allow the Director to exercise his 
authority under 18 U.S.C. 3624(b)(4) to exempt inmates from the 
``satisfactory progress'' provision of the Violent Crime Control and 
Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (VCCLEA) and/or the Prison Litigation 
Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA) if they participate in an ``authorized 
alternative adult literacy program.'' The Bureau's Literacy Program 
rules, which currently contemplate only GED attainment, are also being 
revised to allow for ``authorized alternative adult literacy 
programs.'' This change means that inmates eligible for ``authorized 
alternative adult literacy programs'' will not need to demonstrate 
satisfactory progress toward earning a GED credential to be considered 
for the full benefits of GCT.

Executive Order 12866

    The Director certifies that this rule is not a ``significant 
regulatory action'' under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 and 
therefore was not reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

Executive Order 13132

    This regulation will not have substantial direct effects on the 
States, on the relationship between the national government and the 
States, or on distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government. Under Executive Order 13132, this rule 
does not have sufficient federalism implications for which we would 
prepare a Federalism Assessment.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Director of the Bureau of Prisons, under the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), reviewed this regulation. By 
approving it, the Director certifies that it will not have a 
significant economic impact upon a substantial number of small entities 
because: This rule is about the correctional management of offenders 
committed to the custody of the Attorney General or the Director of the 
Bureau of Prisons, and its economic impact is limited to the Bureau's 
appropriated funds.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This rule will not cause State, local and tribal governments, or 
the private sector, to spend $100,000,000 or more in any one year, and 
it will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. We do 
not need to take action under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 251 of the 
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, 5 U.S.C. 
804. This rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of 
$100,000,000 or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or 
significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, 
productivity, innovation, or on the ability of United States-based 
companies to compete with foreign-based companies in domestic and 
export markets.

List of Subjects in 28 CFR Parts 523 and 544

    Prisoners.

Charles E. Samuels, Jr.,
Director, Bureau of Prisons.

    Under the rulemaking authority vested in the Attorney General in 5 
U.S.C. 552(a) and delegated to the Director, Bureau of Prisons, we 
propose to revise 28 CFR parts 523 and 544 as follows.

SUBCHAPTER B--INMATE ADMISSION, CLASSIFICATION, AND TRANSFER

PART 523--COMPUTATION OF SENTENCE

0
1. The authority citation for 28 CFR part 523 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 18 U.S.C. 3568 (repealed November 1, 
1987 as to offenses committed on or after that date), 3621, 3622, 
3624, 4001, 4042, 4081, 4082 (Repealed in part as to conduct 
occurring on or after November 1, 1987), 4161-4166 (repealed October 
12, 1984 as to offenses committed on or after November 1, 1987), 
5006-5024 (Repealed October 12, 1984 as to conduct occurring after 
that date), 5039; 28 U.S.C. 509, 510.

0
2. Amend Sec.  523.20 by revising paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  523.20  Good Conduct Time.

* * * * *
    (d) Notwithstanding the requirements of paragraphs (b) and (c) of 
this section;
    (1) An inmate participating in an authorized alternative adult 
literacy program is eligible for a yearly award of good conduct time; 
and
    (2) An alien subject to a final order of removal, deportation, or 
exclusion, is eligible, but is not required, to participate in a 
literacy program, or to be making satisfactory progress toward earning 
a General Educational Development (GED) credential, to be eligible for 
a yearly award of good conduct time.

[[Page 1382]]

SUBCHAPTER C--INSTITUTIONAL MANAGEMENT

PART 544--EDUCATION

SUBPART H--LITERACY PROGRAM

0
3. The authority citation for 28 CFR part 544 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 18 U.S.C. 3621, 3622, 3624, 4001, 4042, 
4081, 4082 (Repealed in part as to offenses committed on or after 
November 1, 1987), 5006-5024 (Repealed October 12, 1984 as to 
offenses committed after that date), 5039; 28 U.S.C. 509, 510; 28 
CFR 0.95-0.99.

0
4. Amend Sec.  544.71 by revising paragraph (a) introductory text and 
paragraph (a)(4) and adding paragraph (a)(5) to read as follows:


Sec.  544.71  Exceptions to required literacy program participation.

    (a) The following inmates are not required to attend the literacy 
program under Sec.  544.70:
* * * * *
    (4) Inmates determined by staff to be temporarily unable to 
participate in the literacy program due to special circumstances beyond 
their control (e.g., due to a medical condition, transfer on writ, on a 
waiting list for initial placement). Such inmates, however, shall be 
required to participate when the special circumstances are no longer 
applicable; and
    (5) Inmates who participate in authorized alternative adult 
literacy programs (programs other than the GED program) due to special 
circumstances, such as release destination or learning ability.
[FR Doc. 2015-00144 Filed 1-8-15; 8:45 am]
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