Healthy Living

Woman in Prison Denied Compassionate Release to Take Care of her Husband with Muscular Dystrophy

The problems associated with US's idea of "Compassionate Release"

In 2013, FAMM, an advocacy group for prisoners, urged the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons to bring motions to the courts for compassionate release. The Answer is No: Too Little Compassionate Release in US Federal Prisons outlines how compassionate release works in the federal system. The paper also lists many problems with the current process.

Some of the problems include:

  • Only two dozen motions to courts for early release for compassionate reasons were heard since 1992. The prison population exceeds 2.220,000 in 2018. 
  • The Bureau of Prisons officials reject making a move through the courts if they feel that the prisoner needs more punishment.
  • There are no records of the number of prisoners seeking compassionate release.
  • Prisoners must be within 12 months of death, or there must be profoundly and irrevocably compelling reasons for compassionate release consideration.
  • Compassionate release appeals take too long to consider. Almost 13% of prisoners looking for final consent have died, or their family members have passed away before the Bureau of Prisons approved the petition.