Frequently Asked Questions on Good Conduct Credits

On May 1, 2021, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) began the implementation of several changes to credit-earning for eligible incarcerated people to further incentivize participation in rehabilitative and educational opportunities, while also streamlining the credit calculation process. This is following the approval of emergency regulations by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).

While the changes implemented in the May 1, 2021 regulations were well intentioned, they created unnecessary operational challenges. The revised draft regulations address these challenges.

The Minimum Security Credit (MSC), implemented in the May 2021 regulations, will be discontinued. The MSC replaced the previous GCC credit earning for eligible people housed in or otherwise eligible for fire camp/Minimum Support Facility (MSF) with a 30-day credit for every 30 consecutive days served on top of the underlying GCC. CDCR will establish 66.6 percent GCC earning for individuals housed in fire camp or minimum custody settings who are convicted of nonviolent crimes, and 50 percent for individuals in fire camps convicted of violent crimes.

With the exception of individuals at or eligible for fire camp or minimum custody convicted of a nonviolent offense, who earn 66.6 percent and 50 percent, respectively, these changes streamline credit earning effective May 1, 2021: Individuals who earn credit will either earn 33.3 percent if they were convicted of a violent offense, or 50 percent if convicted of a nonviolent offense, unless housed in camp, MSF or otherwise eligible for minimum custody and increased credit-earning.

While the intent of MSC was to incentivize those who positively program in a minimum security setting, it became apparent upon implementation that decreasing release dates by 30 days every 30 consecutive days instead of projecting release dates based on the underlying GCC did not give incarcerated individuals or their loved ones a clear release date. Having a projected release date gives people something to work toward – knowing that if they keep up their good work they will release on a certain date is a strong incentive to stay on a positive path.

MSC earned from May 1, 2021 through December 27, 2021 will not be rescinded. If after the release date is re-calculated with the new regulations and the new release date becomes prior to the effective date of the credit action, the MSC will not be applied to the calculation.

Case Records staff will enter every eligible incarcerated person’s individual information into a new calculation system, beginning with people whose release dates are soonest. As part of this process, staff will ensure that each release date is accurate in accordance with these credit-earning changes and state law. Each individual will be notified of their new date as soon as possible.

Yes. Credit earning for people convicted of violent crimes under Penal Code 667.5(c) increased from 20 percent to 33.3 percent. Those individuals serving time for nonviolent crimes under Three Strikes will receive a credit-earning increase from 33.3 to 50 percent. 

No. GCC and other programming credits (Rehabilitative Achievement Credits, Milestone Completion Credits, Educational Merit Credits) apply toward an incarcerated person’s Earliest Possible Release Date (EPRD) for determinate sentences and Minimum Eligible Parole Date (MEPD) for indeterminate sentences. These changes do not impact the calculation of anybody’s Youth Offender Parole Eligible Date, Elderly Parole Eligible Date, or Nonviolent Parole Eligible Date.

CDCR believes in incentivizing incarcerated people to participate in positive activities and follow rules. Providing more opportunities and incentives for participating in rehabilitative programs lead to improved behavior and a safer prison for incarcerated people and staff alike, as well as instilling pro-social and vocational/educational skills to assist people in finding success after incarceration.

The spirit of credit-earning opportunities involves sustained good behavior and participation in available programming for rehabilitative purposes. The regulations proposed in May 2021 allowed people to continue to earn GCC if temporarily assigned to segregated housing for serious rules violations or such offenses as failing to participate in rehabilitative programs or work. The updated draft regulations return zero-credit earning status to those in these categories to incentivize individuals to positively program.

Yes. The OAL approved the emergency regulations on December 28, 2021 and will be in emergency effect for 160 days, during which time CDCR will promulgate permanent regulations, which will include a public comment period. 

Proposition 57, which was approved by California voters in 2016 and reaffirmed in 2020, gave CDCR the authority to make credit changes to reduce the prison population and incentivize incarcerated people to more actively participate in rehabilitative and educational programming opportunities.