Good behavior credit means the Massachusetts woman already has shaved nearly two months off her 15-month sentence
She may have lost out on parole, but Michelle Carter’s good behavior behind bars still means she won’t serve the full 15 months of her sentence for urging her teen boyfriend via texts and phone calls to kill himself.
Because of her exemplary participation in jail programs, Carter, who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 suicide of her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, has shaved 53 days off her sentence, a spokesman for the Bristol County, Massachusetts, Sheriff’s Office tells PEOPLE.
Inmates earn up to 10 days “good time” credit each month by attending programs and classes as well as working inside the jail, say Jonathan Darling, the sheriff’s office spokesman. Carter’s participation in those programs at the Bristol County House of Corrections has so far moved her release date up to March 13 next year from May 5.
Between now and then, she can earn additional credit to move up her release date even sooner, he says.
On Friday, the Massachusetts parole board denied Carter’s request to be set free after serving the first seven months of her sentence.
“The [board] is troubled that Ms. Carter not only encouraged [Roy] to take his own life, she actively prevented others from intervening in his suicide,” according to the written decision obtained by PEOPLE. “Ms. Carter’s self-serving statements and behavior, leading up to and after his suicide, appear to be irrational and lacked sincerity.”
The decision added, “Ms. Carter needs to further address her causative factors that led to the governing offense.”
Carter’s attorney, Joseph Cataldo, told PEOPLE afterward that he was disappointed with the parole board’s decision.
“I was certainly hopeful, given that she was 16 when she knew him, then 17 [when he died], and given her age and mental health issues she was struggling with at the time,” he said, adding, “She has conducted herself within the confines of her release, so I believe she was an excellent candidate for parole. By no means is she a danger to society.”
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Roy was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in his pickup truck on July 13, 2014, in the parking lot of a Fairhaven Kmart.
In hundreds of texts and statements that came to light after Roy’s suicide, Carter was revealed to have pushed him to go through with the act. The judge who found her guilty cited Carter’s written admission to a friend that, after Roy got out of the truck and shared his last-minute fears with Carter in a phone call before he died, she told him to “get back in” the truck.
Both teens had struggled with depression, and Roy had made previous attempts at suicide.
Although Carter’s defense acknowledged her exchanges with Roy, her attorneys argued that prosecutors had “cherry-picked” only those text messages that served their case against her, ignoring others in which Carter urged Roy toward help for his struggles.
Her defense team argued that Carter’s statements were covered by First Amendment free-speech protections, and that she shouldn’t be found guilty for a crime through words alone, especially when she wasn’t on the scene where Roy died.
But police said Carter deliberately misled friends in the days and hours before Roy died, claiming to them that he’d gone missing at the same time the two of them were in contact.
“She did nothing,” Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz said at Carter’s sentencing. “She did not call the police or Mr. Roy’s family. Finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction: ‘Get out of the truck.’”
An appeal of Carter’s conviction to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was denied. Her defense has since appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.