In Texas, there exists a classification of offense called a State Jail Felony. A person convicted of a State Jail Felony faces up to 2 years in a State Jail Facility and up to a $10,000 fine. A state jail facility is different from the state penitentiary. Only those offenders that have been convicted of and sentenced on a state jail felony are housed in state jail facilities. Because state jail offenses are separately classified offenses from 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree felonies, state jail facilities have different rules and regulations.
State Jail Diligent Participation Credit Adopted by Texas Legislature
One of the biggest differences between a state jail facility and the state penitentiary is the unavailability of parole or good conduct time. However, beginning in 2011, the Texas legislature recognized the need for some sort of program to allow inmates to earn credit towards their sentence. In 2011, the 82nd Legislature passed House Bill 2649 which allows some state jail offenders the opportunity to be awarded state jail diligent participation credit by their sentencing judge. Any state jail offender may be eligible for this credit by participating in work, education and/or treatment programs.
What is “Diligent Participation?”
The bill defines diligent participation 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.
How is State Jail Diligent Participation Credit reported?
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is required by law to notify an offender’s sentencing judge of the offender’s number of days of diligent participation no later than 30 days prior to the offender completing 80% of the offender’s sentence.
How much State Jail Diligent Participation Credit does an offender receive?
TDCJ awards one day of diligent participation credit for each actual day that an offender is in custody.
When will an offender not receive credit for diligent participation?
An offender will not be given credit on days that he/she:
- refused to work;
- refused to attend school or complete school assignments; or
- refused to attend or participate in a required treatment program.
Also, offenders will not receive credit if they are assigned to state jail for level 4 or 5 custody (meaning that there was required an increased level of security), are placed in solitary confinement or administrative segregation.
How much time can an offender get credited towards their state jail sentence if they have “diligently participated?”
The sentencing judge may credit up to 20% of the offender’s sentence for days served. However, the judge is not required to give credit for each or any day of diligent participation.
What does it mean to be “presumptively entitled” to State Jail Diligent Participation Credit?
For offenses that were committed on or after September 01, 2015, the judge, at the time of the sentence has another option. He or She can now specify that the offender is “presumptively entitled” to any credit earned by diligently participating. If the judge makes this finding, then the offender will automatically be awarded their credit for diligently participating on the 45th day before 80% of their sentence is complete. However, a person can still –in effect – lose this presumptive entitlement by committing any of the actions above to negate diligent participation credit.
How can a court award diligent participation credit?
All sentencing courts in the State of Texas will have received U.S. mail containing the courts initial user ID and password.
Sentencing Judges can follow these steps to award diligent participation credit via the internet:
- Sentencing courts will receive an email notification advising that there are offenders needing to be reviewed.
- Go to the TDCJ web site (www.tdcj.state.tx.us). Click “State Jail Diligent Participation” from the “Online Services” tab. Once this link is clicked, you will be directed to a login page requesting a user ID and password.
- Type in user ID and password provided by the TDCJ. Upon first login, user will be required to change password. Please adhere to good security practices by choosing a strong password. The TDCJ requires user passwords be at least eight alpha and numeric characters and contain upper and lower case. As a good security practice users will be required to change their password every 60 days.
- Once the user has successfully logged into the application, the user will be directed to a list of offenders sentenced by the currently logged in court. Click “State Jail Diligent Participation” to be directed to a list of offenders sentenced by the currently logged in court.
- Click any offender name to see the individual progress report. On this progress report please find the offender’s personal information such as name, date of birth, offense, sentence begin date, and current discharge date. Of particular interest will be “Number of Days Ineligible to Receive Diligent Participation Credit”, and “Number of Days the Offender Diligently Participated.”
- The court will enter the number of days to be credited to that particular offender, which may be any number between 0 (zero) and the total number of days allowed. 7. Once the court enters days to be credited, click “Submit”. After clicking Submit, a new Submission Confirmation window will pop up. Confirm your credits by clicking OK.
- The system will recalculate the offender’s discharge date and notify the offender and appropriate State Jail staff.
State Jail Diligent Participation Credit Attorneys
If you have questions about whether you or a loved one are entitled to State Jail Diligent Participation Credit, you should contact a criminal defense attorney. If you are currently represented, contact your attorney and ask them about the diligent participation credit.