What is Compassionate Release?

 Posted on February 15,2024 in Criminal Law

San Antonio criminal defense lawyerCompassionate release is a process by which incarcerated individuals can be released early due to extraordinary or compelling circumstances. It allows eligible inmates to finish their sentences under supervision outside of prison. This process is governed under federal and state laws, with specific eligibility criteria and procedures that must be followed. A Texas criminal defense lawyer can help determine if you or a family member may have the potential for compassionate release.

Who is Eligible for Compassionate Release Consideration?

There are certain requirements that an inmate must meet to qualify for compassionate release consideration. At the federal level and in many states, including Texas, the following general criteria apply:

  • The inmate must have an extraordinary or compelling circumstance, such as a terminal medical condition or advanced age and deteriorating health. Family circumstances like the death or incapacitation of a spouse or caregiver may also qualify.
  • They must have exhibited good behavior while incarcerated.
  • They must have served a minimum portion of their overall sentence of at least 30 years for federal life sentences or 75% of the imposed term for other sentences over a year.

How is Compassionate Release Approved and Supervision Handled?

If inmates meet the eligibility requirements, they can petition the court for consideration. This involves submitting BOP records, medical documentation, and release plans showing where they will live and how their needs will be met if released.

A judge will review each petition and determine whether release on supervision outside prison is appropriate. They must find that the petitioner meets the eligibility criteria and does not pose a public safety risk. If approved, the inmate will be released under supervision similar to parole.

This supervision involves regular check-ins with probation officers and restricts certain activities. Any violation of release terms can result in re-incarceration. Supervision lasts for the remainder of the inmate’s imposed prison sentence.

Extraordinary Circumstances for Compassionate Release

The extraordinary or compelling circumstances that qualify inmates for compassionate release consideration generally fall into a few categories:

  • Medical Conditions: A terminal illness, advanced age, disease, injury, or disability that cannot be adequately treated in a BOP facility can make an inmate eligible. The condition must be serious enough that it substantially diminishes their ability to function in prison.
  • Elderly Age: Inmates over the age of 65 typically qualify due to age-related health decline. Some states consider those as young as 50 eligible due to shorter average lifespans among incarcerated people.
  • Death or Incapacitation of a Caregiver: If an inmate’s child or spouse dies or becomes mentally or physically incapable of caregiving, it may warrant compassionate release so the inmate can fulfill caretaking responsibilities.

Contact a San Antonio, TX Criminal Defense Lawyer

Working with a San Antonio, TX criminal defense attorney can help if you are curious about compassionate release for a loved one. You need a strong case for this path. Call Law Offices of Sam H. Lock at 210-226-0965 to get started.

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