For many inmates in the United States, the only way to stay out of prison is by serving time.
But, as they often find themselves in prison, they are often faced with the choice of either working and living in the community or leaving the system.
The federal government’s sentencing guidelines, released this week, aim to keep those options open.
The guidelines are designed to ensure that prisoners don’t become criminals, that they are rehabilitated and that their crimes do not land them in jail again.
They also aim to ensure they don’t end up as the next Michael Vick.
“You know, we’ve got a lot of prisoners who have been incarcerated for nonviolent offenses who have done the right thing,” said Elizabeth MacLaughlin, the director of the nonprofit Prison Justice Project, which advocates for prisoners.
For some, that will be a difficult task. “
It’s going to be very important that we get to a place where people can feel that they’re being treated fairly, that their families and communities are not being abused, that the community is not going to feel that people have been abused.”
For some, that will be a difficult task.
In many states, people convicted of non-serious crimes have been sentenced to time behind bars.
For example, a New Jersey inmate who pled guilty to a violent robbery in which he and another man punched a man in the face was sentenced to 12 months in jail, after pleading guilty to robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime.
In Texas, a former high school basketball coach was sentenced in 2012 to five years in prison after pleading not guilty to charges of drug dealing, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
And in Louisiana, a man convicted of armed robbery in 2015 was sentenced this month to 30 months in prison.
A judge in Wisconsin last month sentenced a man to eight years in state prison after he was convicted of conspiracy to murder a family member and attempted murder for allegedly trying to kill his girlfriend.
For those convicted of a violent crime, the guideline recommends that they serve time at least 15 months behind bars before being eligible for parole.
The sentencing guidelines also make it clear that those convicted under the “three strikes and you’re out” rule are not eligible for clemency.
But the guidelines do not require people convicted under that rule to complete any rehabilitation programs or be released from prison.
In some cases, prison officials have sought to reduce the number of people serving time without a criminal conviction by allowing them to serve time out of state and to transfer them to other states.
“If you want to get released from jail, the state can make that happen,” MacLaughles said.
“But, in some cases where you want more time, you need to have a commitment that they will be able to get back into the community.”
In some states, officials have begun allowing inmates who are eligible for a waiver from parole to work outside prison.
The Justice Department, however, has not provided any guidance on how the guidelines would be applied in the future.
“There’s a lot more that we want to see from corrections officers,” MacLeod said.
The Guidelines could change over time, she added.
For now, inmates who have completed their sentences should feel good about the guidance, but it should not be a surprise to anyone who has been incarcerated.
The release of the guidelines comes at a time of rising tension between the United State and Russia.
The U.S. and Russia are in a Cold War-era rivalry over Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Syria.
Russia has been accused of backing rebels in the conflict in Syria.
In February, U.N. sanctions were imposed against Russia over its actions in Syria, including its involvement in the civil war.
“I’m really hopeful that this guidelines, this guidance, is going to do the right things for these people,” Macdonalds said.
For inmates, that includes knowing they are not the only ones who have the right to choose.
The National Coalition for Men, which has lobbied for the guidelines, says that the guideline will help inmates stay out from behind bars and will help prisoners become a better role model.
“By reducing prison overcrowding and providing these guidelines, we can continue to educate our sons and daughters on what it means to be a man and to be an American, and that’s going for both male and female,” said David Henshaw, president of the group.
“This is a win for us, and it’s a win not just for prisoners but for all Americans.”