As of early September, over 15,000 Florida prisoners had tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 100 had died as a result. Those numbers are sure to be even higher now. Despite the numbers of older and non-violent offenders in Florida’s state prisons, Governor Ron DeSantis has not granted allowances for compassionate release for the coronavirus.
However, the federal prison system does have both compassionate release and home confinement programs that might be attainable for prisoners at high risk of dying from COVID-19. Across the country, approximately 1,200 non-violent offenders have been granted a compassionate release, and 7,500 have been transferred to home confinement since the beginning of the pandemic.
You Can Request Compassionate Release, But It’s Not a Given
Since compassionate release for coronavirus has not been approved by the state prison system, it is only a possibility for federal prisoners in Florida. Working with a federal defense attorney, you can request release or home confinement by following these steps:
Request in writing.
There is no official form for requesting a compassionate release, but you must make the request in writing. The request should state the grounds for the request, such as advanced age, medical conditions, or family circumstances, and should outline a plan for where the prisoner will live and how they will be cared for.
Review by warden and team.
The warden is required to “promptly” review the request, but is not required to complete his review in a certain amount of time. The request will be reviewed by medical staff, and the proposed residence will be visited by probation officers.
Review by General Counsel.
If the warden approves the request, it is passed on to the General Counsel’s office at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), who will consult with the U.S. Attorney in the district where the prisoner was convicted, among others.
Review by Bureau of Prisons Director.
If the General Counsel’s office approves, the request is reviewed by the BOP Director. If the Director approves, the request moves on to the court system.
Ultimately, compassionate release is approved by a federal judge, who will decide if the release fulfills the purposes of the prisoner’s original punishment. The court will also rule on the duration of home confinement and set other release conditions.
As you can see, this can be a complicated and lengthy process. If the purpose is to protect a loved one from contracting the coronavirus, a decision may not arrive in time.
Your Odds Are Greater With the Help of a Federal Defense Attorney
Your likelihood of success is based on the power of your initial request. An experienced defense attorney can draft a convincing request that contains all the evidence necessary to make a strong argument for release. Even then, success is not guaranteed. If you would like to discuss the possibility of compassionate release from federal prison, reach out to my office in Miami. I would be happy to review your loved one’s situation and tell you if I can help.
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