How to Reduce a Prison Sentence

Spending your life behind bars may be hard to accept and difficult to live with. Especially when you’re sentenced for almost a lifetime. But once you’ve been charged with a crime, it doesn’t mean that your life is over.

Do not lose hope even if you’ve already exhausted all possible appeals. There are still ways to reduce your prison sentence.

Although the rules vary by state, there are still some common rules that each state follows. Here are some general federal rules that might help you reduce your prison sentence.


Sometimes an error may occur to the sentencing order. So it’s best to read over your sentencing order together with your attorney to ensure there are no errors.

If you have questions, you can compare your sentencing order to the trial transcript. You need to make sure that the document matches the judge’s orders.

Bear in mind that you can have it corrected if there are any technical or clerical errors on the document.


If you find an error in your sentencing order, you should tell the judge right away.

As per the federal rules, only 14 days is the usual time given for a judge to correct an error in a sentencing order. After that, the judge can do nothing.

But, the time frame given to a judge to correct a sentence order still depends on each state.


You can reduce your prison sentence if you give information to the state about other crimes. Especially if it is important and can be of great help to the government.

If you’re able to get information that you think is important to the state, it’s best to inform your lawyer first.

A prosecutor might also have you work for him on the inside and gather information about the case. If this happens, let your attorney know about it for there are dangers and risks when doing this.

Now, if your lawyer agreed and give a go signal that you can work with a prosecutor, then do it with caution.

If the information that you provided is a great help, then reduce in prison sentence is possible. Your prosecutor can file a motion in exchange for your cooperation.

An inmate serving his prison sentence.


Commutation is the act of changing a punishment to a less severe one. If you want to reduce your prison sentence, then you can file a petition for commutation.

However, you need to verify first if you qualify for a commutation.

To qualify, the convict usually needs to have good behavior inside the jail. So if you’re always getting into trouble while serving jail time, odds are you’re not likely to get approved in commutation. (Related: How to Survive Prison: Survival Tips From Former Inmates)

Since rules vary in each state, it’s best to ask your lawyer how your prison sentence can get commuted.


Enrolling in programs like the Residential Drug Abuse Program can be your other option. RDAP is a voluntary program for prisoners with substance abuse problems. There are many states that offer rehabilitation programs. However, you must meet certain criteria to be eligible for RDAP.

Criteria to be eligible to RDAP include:

  • You must not have a conviction for a violent offense. (e.g. actual, attempted, or threatened the use of physical force)
  • You must not have a conviction involving homicide, rape, robbery, arson, kidnapping, or sexual abuse of a minor;
  • You must have verified problems with substance abuse.
  • You must be a citizen of the United States.
  • You must have at least 24 months remaining on your prison sentence.
  • You must not have received a sentence reduction in the past through RDAP.


Last but not least, you can file a motion to reduce your prison sentence. Usually, your sentence can be reduced if you are 70 or older or have served at least 30 years on a life sentence. Also, if the state believes that you are no longer a danger to the public. (Related: What Happens After One’s Release From Prison)

But again, it will still depend on the rules of your state.

These are just a few tips on how to reduce your prison sentence. But then, it’s still better to keep yourself away from trouble to avoid spending your life behind bars.


GlobalTel’s inmate calling service lowers jail call rates by 90% for jail calls to US facilities. Sign up for our service to eliminate the long distance jail call fees for $45.99 for 90 days. Make US/domestic and international jail calls at the local rate and stay connected to your incarcerated loved ones for less. Learn more about how to sign up for calls from inmates on our website.

Franchette Agatha an author for GlobalTel


Franchette Agatha Jardin believes that everyone has the capacity to help those who are in need. She writes blogs about issues and news surrounding those in prison in the hopes of restoring a little extra faith in humanity.