U.S. Department of Justice Report Finds Federal Bureau of Prisons Compassionate Release Program "Poorly Managed"
Date:  05-03-2013

Eligible inmates routinely denied release
On December 6, 2012 Reentry Central posted the article “Report Shows Federal Bureau of Prisons is Not Compassionate in Granting Compassionate Release Applications,” which included a link to the Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, “The Answer is No: Too Little Compassionate Release in U.S. Federal Prison.” A report issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in April 2013 seems to validate the assertion of FAMM and HRW that the BOP’s Compassionate Release policy is underutilized, or even ignored. Findings of the DOJ report, “The Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Compassionate Release Program” include:

“The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that an effectively managed compassionate release program would result in cost savings for the BOP, as well as assist the BOP in managing its continually growing inmate population and the significant capacity challenges it is facing. However, we found that the existing BOP compassionate release program 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.

The BOP does not have clear standards on when compassionate release is warranted, resulting in ad hoc decision making. The BOP’s regulations and Program Statement provide no criteria or standards to use in evaluating whether a medical or non¬medical circumstance qualifies for consideration. As a result, we found that BOP staff had varied and inconsistent understandings of the circumstances that warranted consideration for compassionate release. For example, at some institutions, only inmates with a life expectancy of 6 months or less were deemed eligible for consideration. At other institutions, inmates with a life expectancy of 12 months or less were considered eligible candidates. We further found that although the BOP’s regulations and Program Statement permit non-medical circumstances to be considered as a basis for compassionate release, the BOP routinely rejects such requests and did not approve a single non¬medical request during the 6-year period of our review.”

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