For all but the worst offenders, most convicted prisoners don't spend their whole sentence in prison. Many are released early because of good time credits for good behavior or for working.
What are good time credits?
Good Time Credits
Good time credits go by many different names including: gain time, meritorious time, sentence remission, diminution of sentence, or time off for good behavior. Essentially, a prisoner's sentence may be shortened as a reward for good behavior.
Another form of good time credits are work credits. Some eligible prisoners may be able to get credits for work projects performed while incarcerated.
How Much Time Do I Get?
While the definition of good time credits may be easy, the calculation of such may require a PhD in math. State and federal laws regarding good time credits vary wildly with some states being very generous and some states being very stingy:
If you've been incarcerated and would like to know if you're eligible for good time credits, consult with an experienced local criminal defense attorney.