Compassionate Release is a process by which inmates in criminal justice systems may be eligible for immediate early release on grounds of “particularly extraordinary or compelling circumstances which could not reasonably have been foreseen by the court at the time of sentencing.
Federal laws governing compassionate release include 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)1(A), which came into effect on 1 November 1987 and governs those whose offenses occurred since it was enacted and 18 U.S.C. 4205(g), the previous version, which still controls release of inmates who were convicted of offenses that occurred on or prior to that date.
An 85 page report, by Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, examined compassionate releases from 2006 to 2011. It recommended that the bureau make greater use of its ability to release inmates who are taking up bed space — and using costly medical services — but who pose relatively little risk to the public because of factors like their age or poor health.
“We concluded that an effectively managed compassionate release program would result in cost savings for the B.O.P., as well as assist the B.O.P. in managing its continually growing inmate population and the resulting capacity challenges it is facing,” it said. “We further found that such a program would likely have a relatively low rate of recidivism.”
The recidivism rate within three years for all former federal inmates is around 41 percent. By contrast, just 5 of the 142 inmates released for compassionate reasons — or 3.5 percent — in the studied period were rearrested within three years, it said.
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