Good conduct has its rewards
Aside from punishment or retribution, our penal laws also favor reformation.
Republic Act 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) amended Sections 29, 94, 97, 98, and 99 of the Revised Penal Code.
The Uniform Manual on Time Allowances and Service of Sentence defines GCTA as a privilege granted to a person deprived of liberty (PDL), entitling him/her to a reduction of prison term for every month of actual detention or service of the sentence as a reward for good conduct and exemplary behavior.”
Except for those convicted of heinous crimes, it would give a convict a second chance at life. In a nutshell, the GCTA allows for deduction of sentences of PDLs, depending on how well they abide by the rules and regulations inside any penal institution, rehabilitation, or detention center or any other local jail. It essentially awards good behavior and recognizes rehabilitation.
Good conduct means the PDL has not violated any of the 49 prison rules so if he engages in or keeps drugs in his cells or when he lives luxuriously inside the Muntinlupa facilities or builds a kubol, there is no good conduct to speak of.
Section 3 of RA 10592 sets the guidelines for calculating the GCTA of inmates: For the first two years of imprisonment: 20 days or 480 days a year (roughly one year and three months), will be deducted from his prison term. For the third to fifth years: 23 days for each month or a total maximum deduction of 828 days (roughly two years and three months). For the sixth to 10thyears: 25 days or 1,800 days (roughly four years and one month). For the 11thand successive years: 30days deduction.
This means that a person serving 25 years who was well-behaved every month from his 11thto 25thyear would get a prison term reduction of 14 years and seven months. In addition, an inmate shall get 15 days additional reduction for each month of study, teaching, or mentoring service. Thus, a PDL who has been in jail for 25 years and who showed good behavior during imprisonment, can have as much as 19 years deducted from his or her jail term.
Before President Rodrigo Duterte granted him absolute pardon, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was a recipient of the GCTA.
On Dec. 1, 2015, Pemberton was convicted of homicide by the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court for the killing of Filipino transwoman Jennifer Laude and was sentenced to six to 10 years imprisonment.
Pemberton was preventively detained for 405 days while his trial was ongoing, he earned 260 GCTA points in the succeeding years of his detention. He earned the perfect score of 20 days deduction per month from December 2015 and the 12 months of 2016.
For 2017 to December 2019, he earned 23 days reduction per month and 25 days per month from January to August 2020. While his actual imprisonment was only six years, the RTC found that he had a total accumulated time served under GCTA of 10 years, one month and 10 days – more than the 10-year maximum penalty imposed by the RTC. Thus, he was entitled to be released as he had already served the 10-year maximum penalty, but mooted by the pardon.
The message though, is clear – those serving sentence at the Munti have hope, just find a good lawyer to invoke GCTA. Sigh.