A former Arkansas State Police investigator and Greene County sheriff’s office lieutenant convicted of pocketing more than $30,000 in a sting operation argued in court Thursday that he hasn’t been given enough time off his sentence for participating in rehabilitation programming.

An official with the federal Bureau of Prisons disputed that, saying Allen Scott Pillow benefited from having his sentence reduction calculated under interim rules implementing the First Step Act, a 2018 law aimed at reducing recidivism and decreasing the federal inmate population while maintaining public safety.

The law offers inmates the opportunity to participate in recidivism reduction programming or productive activities to earn 10 or 15 days in time credits for every 30 days successfully spent in programming.

During a hearing in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Pillow, 58, of Paragould said that while in prison he had no infractions, participated in First Step Act programming, and even tutored other inmates.

“I did everything the Bureau of Prisons asked me to, believing I would get credit,” he said.

Susan Giddings, unit management section chief for the prison agency in Washington D.C., said the interim rules implementing the law allowed for more generous time credit calculations and less oversight than what is now required under the final rules.

Had Pillow’s federal time credits been calculated under the final rules, he would have had even less time credited, Giddings said.

“Inmates under 18 months were not re-calculated under final rules because they would have lost credited time,” Giddings, testifying remotely, said.

“It was decided not to recalculate Mr. Pillow’s calculation because he would have been negatively impacted.”

Pillow pleaded guilty to theft of government funds in federal court in December 2020 and the following April was sentenced to spend two years in prison.

He was arrested Nov. 5, 2019 after pocketing $30,400 in cash that he believed was part of $76,000 in illegal drug proceeds he had recovered from a planted rental vehicle.

The money was recovered the next day after a search of Pillow, who at that time was working for the sheriff’s office after retiring from the state police, and his home.

According to court documents, the sting operation was prompted by the discovery in September 2019 by officials at state police Company F that $13,570 was missing from three separate case files.

The next month, an FBI sting was conducted and Pillow was arrested.

In a court filing in August, Pillow said that, while in prison at Leavenworth, Kan., he was awarded a partial calculation of 86 days of federal time credits pursuant to the First Step Act based on his time at the prison from June 7, 2021, to Dec. 25.

He said he was released into the custody of the City of Faith reentry center in Little Rock on June 1 and was told he would receive his remaining credits once he arrived at the center.

That, he said, never happened, which he said meant that he would be unable to obtain an earlier release date than Nov. 22. He maintained that he should get additional credits for the time he served after Dec. 25.

In court Thursday, Pillow told U.S. Magistrate Judge Tricia Harris that after he filed his petition, the Bureau of Prisons discovered an error in his calculation and added an additional 14 days to his credit.

But he said that had his federal time credits been awarded properly, he could have been released from the halfway house much earlier.

“I should have been released Aug. 11,” Pillow said.

The First Step Act, formally known as the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act, allows an inmate may accumulate a maximum of 365 time credits to be applied to their record to create an earlier projected release date for transfer to supervised release.

During Thursday’s hearing, Giddings presented a detailed description of the implementation of the law and the challenges it presented to the bureau.

She explained that inmates are credited with 10 days of federal time credit for each 30 days of satisfactory progress in the required programming.

Those inmates who maintain a minimum risk status for two 180-day assessment periods can earn an additional five days per 30-day period.

In response to a question from Harris, Giddings said that Pillow was given credit for 15 days per 30 day period even though he had not been evaluated for progress as required under the program’s final rules.

Under the final rules, Giddings said, Pillow would have received only 60 days of federal time credit rather than the 100 days he was eventually awarded.

Harris said she will take the matter under advisement and issue a ruling within a few days.

Source: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2022/oct/14/imprisoned-former-arkansas-state-police/