FAMM Applauds Senators on Efforts to Expand Use of Compassionate Release Program

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Post Date: August 4, 2017

Contact: Rabiah Burks



FAMM Applauds Senators on Efforts to Expand Use of Compassionate Release Program

WASHINGTON, DC – FAMM praises 12 U.S. senators for writing a letter to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) requesting an update on its efforts to expand its use of the compassionate release program: Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff A. Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

FAMM’s general counsel, Mary Price, released the following statement in response to the bipartisan letter:

We applaud the 12 senators who are holding BOP accountable for its parsimonious use of the compassionate release program. Many prisoners who apply for compassionate release are near death’s door or have a debilitating illness. Some are elderly, have served at least half their sentences, and are facing declining health. Many have families who can physically and financially take care of them. Elderly and sick prisoners are the most expensive to house and the least likely to reoffend—it only makes sense to send them home. There are prisoners who have unimaginable family circumstances and are needed at home. The program also can ease the burden on ballooning prison populations and rising medical costs. This letter is an important and necessary step to make sure that the program works as Congress intended.

Compassionate release involves a three-agency process: The U.S. Sentencing Commission sets the criteria; BOP evaluates whether or not a prisoner meets the criteria and forwards that motion to a judge; the court then decides if the motion will be granted. BOP obstructs that process by not moving qualified motions to judges. Instead, qualified prisoners are denied by BOP without ever having their case reviewed by the judiciary.

FAMM is grateful to the senators who are making sure that the BOP is fulfilling its role in the compassionate release process. 

FAMM, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, promotes commonsense sentencing and prison policies that increase public safety.

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