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“Compassionate Release”

If you were ever an inmate, you would not have to read a report about correctional systems lack of compassion in releasing terminally ill inmates or the elderly inmates. In past articles, we have discussed the inadequate healthcare for elderly inmates and the substantial increase of seniors in prison. The following New York Times Editorial focused on the Federal Bureau of Prison’s so called “compassionate release program.”

What is prison like for old senior inmates

The Justice Department’s inspector general last week issued a report on the appalling failure of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to do its duty in assisting in the release of terminally ill inmates and others in extreme situations. The 85-page report by the inspector general’s office criticized the bureau’s “compassionate release” program, which has been “poorly managed and implemented inconsistently, likely resulting in eligible inmates not being considered for release and in terminally ill inmates dying before their requests were decided.”

Details in the report painted an even harsher picture, one of government scorn for the program and, worse, for prisoners the bureau is required to treat humanely. The program has the potential to save money, and it poses scant risk to public safety, given the population eligible for this kind of early release. But the government has kept the use of the program to a shameful minimum.

Last November, a joint report by Human Rights Watch and Families Against Mandatory Minimums found that the percentage of prisoners released has shrunk from tiny to microscopic. From 1992 until November 2012, a period in which the federal prison population grew from around 80,000 to 200,000, the bureau released 492 prisoners through the program, an average of only two dozen or so a year. Virtually the only ground the Bureau of Prisons has accepted for release is terminal illness with up to a year of life expectancy, even though the United States Sentencing Commission has identified other grounds for release that meet the federal statute’s standards: impairment due to old age, a permanent physical or mental condition, and the incapacitation of a family member who provides the sole care for the prisoner’s minor children.

The Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons say they are revising their regulations about compassionate release. It is time for Congress to conduct a hearing that would put the department and the bureau on public record about what they are doing to properly fulfill their duty under the law and to hold them accountable.

Congress authorized the Bureau of Prisons to petition a federal judge to reduce an inmate’s sentence for “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances. The bureau is supposed to notify all prisoners of the compassionate release program and of their chance to apply, provide standards for eligibility, and lay out steps to ensure that prisons respond swiftly to release applications. The Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons have long failed to take these duties seriously, disgracefully refusing to carry out a humane and practical law.

Prisonpath – We post articles to show the outside world what prison is like.

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2 Responses to “Compassionate Release”

  1. PrisonPath May 7, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    By Art–Please read the latest report by USDOJ OIG. From what I have read, I am of the opinion some significant changes are probably coming down the pike.

  2. Lisa McDaniel February 25, 2014 at 1:13 am #

    Does Compassionate Release apply for State Prisons? I have Traumatic Head Injury and my husband is my only caregiver. My husband has been incarnated since 2011, and I just got put on disability October 2013, because of my Traumatic Head Injury. I need my husband home, I need someone with me 24/7. I think Compassionate Release and sentence reform and any similar issue should apply to state as well as federal. Why haven’t this passed or why not enforced or rights honored? It’s not fair for some to have this right and others not. I have medical documentation from my doctors and states doctors about my condition. I wrote several people including BOP and no answer.? All our rights broken and not honored. 4,5,6,7,8 Amendments broken and my trunk broken into without search warrant. My husbands tried to fire public defender twice before same judge requested a pro-bono lawyer same judge denied all.? But murderers can get low bonds and best pro-bono lawyers. Murderers, child molesters, rapist, and sex offenders get out easy. Public defender wouldn’t get bond set then year later set at 200,000 too high to bond out. Lawyers want 10,000-20,000 and up front to help. My husband stabbed in eye by inmate and detention center let bleed for 2 weeks with no treatment. My husband is low level security and no threat to no one. They had no where to put him left him in holding room for sometime then put him in a condemned room they were not to use and room is filled with black mold, I have a friend dying from black mold exposure. The room he is in is concrete blocks that swear water . They constantly deny him bathroom rights and shower rights this is cruel unusual treatment but on going bad procedures. I pray somehow my husband is released because all not constitutional and I need him home and we should qualify for Compassionate Release. This would save all. If this law was passed in 2010 why not honored why rights not honored. What happened to a fair system? It’s not that hard if it’s right and a right honor the right not ignore it . I guess if they were facing the problem in my shoes they would know how it feels. Why is there rights and not honored? We have a very unfair system that needs to realize honoring rights and doing handling rights the right fair way is enforcing what’s right and fair is not hard to fugue out. I pray everyone does the right thing and praying for help to get my husband home.

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