Compassionate Release

The idea behind releasing inmates due to health or age-related reasons is not new.  However, the recently passed First Steps Act has created a better way for the compassionate release of federal inmates.  The Act gave federal courts jurisdiction over the release of inmates for health reasons or in other extraordinary circumstances.  Essentially Congress gave the courts the power to correct sentences that while lawful when imposed, were no longer fair or appropriate.  18 USC 3582 allows the defense to file a motion requesting a reduction of a sentence based on extraordinary and compelling reasons.

Before the defense is permitted to file a motion requesting the sentencing court to modify an imposed term of incarceration, they must request the Bureau of Prisons file the motion on their behalf.  In fact, not only must they request the Prison file on their behalf they must have exhausted all administrative appeals before the defendant can file their own motion with the court. However, if after 30 days the warden or Bureau of Prisons fails to take any action, then the defendant may file their own motion with the court.

18 USC 3583 lays out the procedure to make the request for compassionate release.  The pertinent part of 18 USC 3582(c) states: 

(c) Modification of an Imposed Term of Imprisonment

The court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed except that – (1) in any case:

  • (A) the court, upon motion of the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or upon motion of the defendant after the defendant has fully exhausted all administrative rights to appeal a failure of the Bureau of Prisons to bring a motion on the defendant’s behalf or the lapse of 30 days from the receipt of such a request by the warden of the defendant’s facility, whichever is earlier, may reduce the term of imprisonment (and may impose a term of probation or supervised release with or without conditions that does not exceed the unserved portion of the original term of imprisonment), after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if it finds that—
    • (i) extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction; or
    • (ii) the defendant is at least 70 years of age, has served at least 30 years in prison, pursuant to a sentence imposed under section 3559(c), for the offense or offenses for which the defendant is currently imprisoned, and a determination has been made by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons that the defendant is not a danger to the safety of any other person or the community, as provided under section 3142(g); and that such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission; and
  • (B) the court may modify an imposed term of imprisonment to the extent otherwise expressly permitted by statute or by Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure;

Unfortunately, the First Step Act and compassionate release only applies to federal inmates. Currently, there is not a similar program or procedure available to inmates in the State of Florida. This oversight on the part of Florida needs to be rectified. 

If you are aware of a federal prisoner who may be a candidate for compassionate release contact the lawyers at Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law. We are ready to discuss the merits of the motion and file the motion for early release.