As we enter the seventh month of living with the coronavirus in the U.S., many of us have adjusted our work life and daily habits to protect ourselves from infection. Those of us who are elderly or have medical conditions that put us at a higher risk for serious complications are taking even more precautions, like staying home and avoiding groups of people completely. However, one group of people who may be at high risk but have limited options in how they can protect themselves are Florida’s nearly 100,000 prisoners.
Hoping to Get Your Family Member Released?
You may have seen the news about other states releasing older inmates, non-violent offenders, and prisoners near the ends of their sentences to reduce crowding and to stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, Florida has not followed suit so far. Possible mechanisms for releasing at-risk or COVID-positive patients include the following:
The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) has the authority to temporarily release prisoners to serve their sentences in a non-custodial location. So far, FDC has not chosen to exercise this option in relation to COVID-19.
Florida’s conditional medical release program requires that a prisoner be permanently incapacitated or terminally ill in order to be released. Patients with serious cases of COVID-19 might qualify for this program.
Commutation of sentence.
Prisoners who have served one-third of their sentence (or half of a mandatory minimum sentence) could apply to the Clemency Board to have their sentence reduced so that they can be released early. This is an involved process and is not a viable option for many prisoners.
Unfortunately, none of these options are likely to help a prisoner who is hoping to be released immediately to avoid contracting the virus.
Federal Prisons Handle Early Release Differently
Florida’s federal prisons house over 10,000 prisoners. The federal prison system has a compassionate release program, which makes inmates eligible for early release if a terminal illness, advanced age, sickness, debilitation, or extreme family circumstances make continued imprisonment prohibitively punitive. Applying for compassionate release involves a lot of paperwork and, if you want to get your loved one out quickly, your best bet is to work with a federal defense attorney who can do it right the first time.
Contact Danny Izquierdo to Learn About Early Release Options
You are worried about your imprisoned family member for good reason. These are frightening times. We invite you to contact our Miami office to discuss options for getting them released for their own safety. It won’t be easy, but we’re happy to talk you through it.