Understanding Compassionate Release
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has a compassionate release program that allows earlier discharge or reduction of the sentence for some eligible inmates. This program demands compelling or extraordinary circumstances that were unforeseen at the time of the defendant’s initial sentencing. Unfortunately, the BOP rarely recognizes the extraordinary circumstances of its inmates and typically denies the majority of requests from those who apply. Recent criticism of these frequent denials for compassionate release, despite the fact that qualifying inmates often are the ones applying, has caused some adjustments to the request process that should allow more approvals. With the help of a seasoned appeals attorney, inmates can increase their odds of having their request granted under the newly expanded policies.
Who Qualifies for Compassionate Release
U.S. Code Title 18, Section 3582 provides for compassionate release, but this conflicts with the purpose of the BOP, which is to secure prisoners and have them serve out their sentences. This process also demands that the director of the BOP initiate the process by filing the motion itself. While this may seem like an impossible undertaking, it is possible to persuade the director to do so. This is why having a knowledgeable defense lawyer is critical.
The BOP ideally should consider every reduction in sentence request made by its inmates according to the statute governing this type of release. Typical grounds for requesting compassionate release include:
Terminal Health Issues
Inmates that have been diagnosed with an incurable or terminal disease and will likely die in 18 months or less may have the BOP consider their request. It is vital that prisoners in this situation demonstrate that this was an unknown condition when they got sentenced.
Debilitating Medical Condition
Prisoners who suffer from a progressive illness that is incurable, or receive a debilitating injury, should be evaluated by the BOP for their compassionate release request.
Elderly Inmates with Health Issues
If an inmate is over 65 years old and has a diagnosis of a severe or chronic health condition, when their health begins to show signs of failing they can apply for compassionate release after serving a minimum 50% of their sentence.
Family Caregiver Dies
Many inmates have family caregivers to provide for their children while serving time in prison. If this person dies or loses the ability to continue care, an inmate can ask for compassionate release to care for their children.
Spouse Becomes Incapacitated
If a prisoner’s spouse becomes incapacitated and has no caregiver options except for their incarcerated partner, making a request for compassionate release is also possible as a solution.
In any of these cases, the prison warden must decide whether there is merit to the request and document all findings before sending in a written recommendation for early release to the BOP. An experienced defense attorney can assist with gathering up as much evidence as possible and make a convincing argument to the warden.
How Compassionate Release is Approved
Inmates and/or their attorneys need to file a release request with the prison warden. This initial askance will clearly outline how circumstances have changed since sentencing and how they are extraordinary or compelling. This letter should also include all the details of how and where the inmate will live, finances to support needed medical costs or care, and other related information.
Once the prison warden receives this initial request for compassionate release, many factors go into determining if it’s appropriate. One of the first considerations involves how much danger society would face if release is granted. This is a vital decision since the BOP wants to keep people locked up for their full sentences and avoid risking public safety. If both sides are in agreement, the warden sends in all the necessary documentation to the BOP’s general counsel for review.
General counsel will review the documentation and stated reasons for allowing the prisoner out earlier than sentenced and communicate their findings to the director of the BOP. The director is the only one who can send a compassionate release request to the sentencing judge in the case. To do this, a collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s Office will take place in the appropriate jurisdiction of the case.
Experienced Compassionate Release Attorneys
If you have a loved one who is suffering from a terminal disease while serving time in prison, and time is running out, it’s imperative that you file for compassionate release right away. Due to the complicated nature of the process, and the time it will take for gathering necessary documentation and reviews, consider hiring an experienced appeals attorney to assist you. Experience is vital when trying to save what time is left and minimize the chance for making errors in your request.
At The Umansky Law Firm, we dedicate ourselves to compassionate and fair treatment of the imprisoned. We fight aggressively to protect the rights of the vulnerable and understand that despite our mistakes, we are all human and deserve dignity. With more than 100 years of combined experience and attorneys who are participants in the Florida Justice Association, you can confide in our dedication to tirelessly fight for your needed release. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and learn how we can help you.