The effort to strengthen the criteria of compassionate release
In 2016, the Sentencing Commission voted to broaden and strengthen the criteria for federal compassionate release. Reports included recommendations made by prisoner advocates:
- Medical conditions to include terminal illness or severe medical conditions, serious cognitive impairment, and deteriorating health due to aging.
- The case should be considered if the defendant is 65 or older and is experiencing deterioration in mental or physical health and has served ten years or 75% of their sentence (whichever is lesser).
- Family circumstances including the incapacitation or death of the minor children’s caregiver, or incapacitation of the prisoner’s spouse or domestic partner, if the prisoner is the only caretaker.
- Other extenuating circumstances not specifically stated in the guidelines.
- The BOP is required to file a motion in any case for prisoners who meet the criteria. Decisions should be left to the sentencing court to determine compassionate release.
It also prevents the BOP from stating that compassionate release should not be granted because the anticipated reasons were known at the time of sentencing.