Every offender who enters the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) system is assigned a Line Class. The Line Class is a designation used within the TDCJ which determines the amount of Good Conduct Time Credit an inmate can earn for their behavior and their diligent participation in certain programs. The amount of Good Time Credit an offender can earn is set by law in the Texas Government Code Section 498.003.
Good Conduct Time Credit or “Good Time Credit” is time credited to an offender for good behavior or for participating in work or self-improvement programs while incarcerated. For most offender the good conduct time credits are added to the actual calendar time served to calculate the offender’s eligibility for parole or mandatory supervision.
The Line Class and Good Conduct Time accrued is only used for parole and mandatory supervision eligibility, otherwise the classification does not affect the offender’s term.
The majority of the offenders are assigned a Line Class of 1 upon entering the TDCJ system. The classification is subjective and is based on the offender’s conduct during the intake process.
Although you do not need to know every nuance in the law concerning the granting of good conduct time credit you do need to understand what good time can be earned and how to use it.
It is important to know that good conduct time, parole, and mandatory supervision do not apply to offenders convicted of what are what known as “State Jail Felonies”. State Jail offenders can receive Diligent Participation Credit which is calculated and awarded differently than Good Conduct Time Credit.
Time Earning Status and Good Conduct Time Credit
When offenders enter the TDCJ facilities, during the intake process the offender is evaluated and assigned a time-earning status of Line Class I to Line Class III. Most new inmates are assigned Line Class I. Line Class 1 earns the most credits and Line Class 3 earns the least amount of credits. Each time-earning status is linked to a set number of days good conduct time that can be earned each month. The earned amount is fixed by the Legislature.
Inmates can work their way into a higher time-earning status or be placed into a lower time-earning status, dependent upon their behavior. New inmates that are processed into TDCJ with a Line Class of 2 or 3 must wait six months before they are eligible for promotion in time-earning status.
There are two types of time-earning statuses: Line Class status ranging from Line Class I to Line Class III and State-Approved Trusty (SAT) status ranging from SAT II to SAT IV.
The amount of good conduct time credits awarded to an inmate is based on the laws in effect when the crime was committed.
Good Conduct Time Credit for Offenses Committed Before September 1, 1987
Offenders who committed their crimes before September 1, 1987 are known as Pre-70th Legislature Offenders or 65th Legislature Offenders. They are awarded good conduct time credits each month based on their time-earning status.
|Classification||Flat Time||Good Conduct Time Credit for completion of academic or vocation programs or on-the-job training|
|Line Class 1 – Initial classification of newly received inmates.||30 Days||Up to 15 Days for “A”, “B”, or “C” credits.|
|Line Class 2 – Inmates with disciplinary status||30 Days||Up to 15 Days for “A”, “B”, or “C” credits.|
|Line Class 3– Inmates with security custody. No good time credit can be earned.||30 Days||No Good Time Credit earned|
|Inmate on Parole or Mandatory Supervision – No good time credit can be earned.||30 Days||No Good Time Credit earned|
|TDCJ inmate confined in a county jail||30 Days||Up to 20 Days|
Good Time Credit for Offenses Committed On or After September 1, 1987
Offenders who committed their crimes on or after September 1, 1987 are known as 70th Legislature Offenders. They are awarded good conduct time credits for their behavior and Diligent Participation Credits for their participation in work, industrial, educational, or vocational programs.
|Classification||Flat Time||Good Conduct Time Credits||Diligent Participation Good Conduct Time Credits for participation in Work, Industrial, Educational or Vocational Program|
|Trusty Status (any classification)||30 days||Up to 20 Days (May not award more than 10 extra days for each 30 days actually served)||Up to 15 Days|
|Line Class 1 – Initial classification of newly received inmates.||30 Days||Up to 20 Days||Up to 15 Days|
|Line Class 2 – Inmates with disciplinary status||30 Days||Up to 10 Days||Up to 15 Days|
|Line Class 3– Inmates with security custody. No good time credit can be earned.||30 Days||0 Days – Not Eligible for this credit.||0 Days – Not Eligible for this credit.|
|Inmates assigned to Administrative Segregation||30 Days||Can receive Good Conduct Time Credits based on their Time-Earning Status of Line Class 1, 2 or 3.||0 Days – Not Eligible for this credit..|
|Inmate on Parole or Mandatory Supervision||30 Days||0 Days – Not Eligible for this credit.||0 Days – Not Eligible for this credit.|
|TDCJ Inmate confined in a county jail||30 Days||Up to 20 Days||Up to 15 Days for voluntary work program operated by the Sheriff|
Good Time Credit While Confined to County Jail
If an offender is confined in a county jail after being sentenced, TDCJ will award good conduct time to the offender up to an amount earned by an inmate in the entry level time earning class of Line Class I. The offender can also earn Diligent Participation credits by participating in a voluntary work program operated by a sheriff under Article 43.101, Code of Criminal Procedure. To receive credit, the sheriff of must attach a certification of the number of days the inmate diligently participated in the volunteer work program when the inmate is transferred to a TDCJ facility.
Reduction of Good Time Credit
If an inmate commits an offense or violates a rule, TDCJ may remove or reduce all or any part of the inmate’s accrued good conduct time or place any or all of the inmate’s good conduct time in suspension. Good conduct time forfeited cannot be restored. However, good conduct time placed in suspension can be reinstated. TDCJ can also restore good conduct time forfeited on a revocation that does not involve a new criminal conviction after the inmate has served at least three months of good behavior in TDCJ.
Any or all good conduct time can also be forfeited by the offender if the offender attempts to contact the victim or victim’s family by letter, telephone, or any other means directly or indirectly.
Good conduct time can be forfeited by the filing of frivolous lawsuits from the offender. The judge must make a finding in the “final order” that the lawsuit was dismissed as frivolous or malicious.
Other Factors in Determining Parole Eligibility
There are many other factors which are used to determine if and when an offender is eligible for parole or mandatory supervision. These factors include:
- The date the crime was committed.
- The type of crime committed.
- Was the conviction a 3g offense?
- Was the conviction an aggravated crime?
- Did the conviction have an enhancement?
- Did the conviction occur in a drug free zone?
- The length of the sentence.
- The amount of actual time served.
- Is the offender serving consecutive sentences?
In essence, the line class assigned to an offender determines how much good conduct time credit and diligent participation good conduct time credit an inmate receives thus affecting when the prisoner will be eligible for parole or mandatory supervision.
As you can see, determining parole eligibility in Texas can be a complex task. Parole eligibility is important because the parole board will not review an offender’s case until six months before the parole eligibility date.
While good conduct time credits will be used to determine the parole eligibility date, a good parole package will help the Parole Board make a favorable decision on parole. Our book, How to Prepare a Texas Parole Package, provides step-by-step instructions on how to prepare an effective parole package. It is designed using a specific strategy to get favorable information in front of the voting member of the Parole Board.
How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet is available in ebook format as an instant download or in bundled form with an ebook and a printed book to be sent to an offender in prison or someone at home. Since we are an approved vendor there are no issues receiving our books at any of the Texas jails or prisons.