skip navigation

Justinfo Subscribe to Stay Informed

Add your conference to our Justice Events calendar


NCJRS Abstract


Subscribe to Stay Informed
Want to be in the know? JUSTINFO is a biweekly e-newsletter containing information about new publications, events, training, funding opportunities, and Web-based resources available from the NCJRS Federal sponsors. Sign up to get JUSTINFO in your inbox.

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Library collection.
To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the NCJRS Abstracts Database.

How to Obtain Documents
NCJ Number: NCJ 240752     Find in a Library
Title: The Answer Is No: Too Little Compassionate Release in US Federal Prisons
  Document URL: PDF 
Corporate Author: Human Rights Watch
United States of America

Families Against Mandatory Minimums
United States of America
Date Published: 11/2012
Page Count: 134
  Annotation: This report explains the Federal legislative provisions that allow for “compassionate release” of an inmate prior to completion of his/her sentence and critiques the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ implementation of these provisions, followed by recommendations.
Abstract: In 1984, the U.S. Congress granted Federal courts the authority to reduce sentences for “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances, after taking into account public safety and the purposes of punishment. The U.S. Sentencing Commission is responsible for describing what those circumstances might be. Prisoners cannot apply directly to the courts for a sentence reduction due to extraordinary and compelling circumstances. By law, only the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has the authority to file a motion with a court in requesting judicial consideration for early release. Although the BOP does not keep records on how many prisoners have asked the BOP to make “compassionate release” motions on their behalf, since 1992, the annual average number of prisoners who have received “compassionate release” has been less than two dozen. BOP has limited the grounds for such release to when the prisoner is expected to die within a year or is profoundly and irremediably incapacitated. It has rejected the broader range of medical and non-medical circumstances that the Sentencing Commission has cited as warranting consideration for “compassionate release.” “Compassionate release” might not be so rare if the courts were able to review BOP decisions that decline early release; however, the U.S. Department of Justice has persuaded most courts that they lack the authority to review the BOP’s refusal to bring a motion for sentence reduction. Recommendations for action are addressed to the BOP, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Congress. This study’s methodology is described.
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Federal Bureau of Prisons ; Mandatory Sentencing ; Human rights violations ; Inmate health ; Corrections decisionmaking ; Early release programs ; Federal legislation
Publication Number: ISBN 1-56432-969-0
Sale Source: Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue
34th Floor
New York, NY 10118-3299
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Country: United States of America
Language: English
  To cite this abstract, use the following link:

* A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's web site is provided.