So how long is 10 years you ask?
While there are a few exceptions, everyone sentenced to do Federal time since 1985 or so is given a definite sentence. What this means in legal terms is that you will serve exactly the number of months you are sentenced to. However, you do get credit for not being "bad."
Although it is reported otherwise, provided you do not get into trouble - think major fighting, breaking bones, stabbing, drawing blood (and we are not talking about in the lab) - you do get approximately forty-five days off your sentence each year for "good behavior." This works out to approximately 15% of your time.
So while I was sentenced to 120 months, I will serve 104 months. I "earned" all the good time I could.
It was once reported in a New York Daily News article that one lawyer's client got out early because he helped with tutoring in the Education department. The point that angers me is that this comment is not only misleading, but wrong, and I am pretty sure that the lawyer knows that.
I have done plenty of good acts here at Club Fed and I am serving the same time as other inmates that sit in front of the TV all day and night watching sports, soaps, and BET/MTV videos.
As a matter of fact, there is even a case before the Federal Appeals Court disputing the calculation of good time. They do not credit you any good time the first year, and since you earn it on an as-you-go basis, you do not get 15% off the entire ten years. It would mean an extra sixty days or so for someone like me, and each day less is a good thing.
The point is that even though this good-time system has been in place for over ten years, some inmate finally challenged the "formula", and it may change.
There is one other way to get time off your sentence once it is given, and that is to take the one year, 500-hour drug course. We happen to have that here at this prison, and after completing all of the requirements, you could get up to twelve months off your sentence.
As a side note, at one point they were actually throwing people out of the program, but then the completion percentage suffered. So lately it seems they are more likely to let the slackers stay, but push them a little harder. The point is it is what is on the paperwork that counts!
So is that clear?
Finally, while it is not always the healthiest way, you can drastically reduce your time by telling all you know about other's bad acts. Yes, this is called ratting, and can have detrimental effects once you arrive in prison.
One of the ways one used to prove he was not a rat was to show other inmates his Judgment and Committal (J&C) paper. This is the actual court document that outlines all your charges and how you sentence was computed. Well, it is now illegal to have that document in your possession.
So since no one can show their J&C, you never know for sure who is a rat and who is not.