Compassionate Release Denials

1. Who can deny a compassionate release petition?

Three officials within the Bureau’s structure can deny a request for compassionate release: the institution’s Warden, General Counsel, and the Director. In general, each has full and unilateral authority to deny a petition.

2. If a compassionate release petition is denied, how is the inmate notified? Is there a time limit for such notification?

The inmate is notified in writing within 20 days of denial. This notification must include the reasons for denial.

3. Does a denial preclude the filing of a new request?

No. Federal inmates can file however many compassionate release petitions they desire.

4. Can the denial be appealed?

Denial at the Warden’s level can be appealed through the Bureau’s Administrative Remedy Program. Denials by General Counsel and the Director cannot be appealed and are considered final agency decisions.

5. What is the likelihood of a compassionate release petition being denied?

This depends on the type of petition. In total, the Bureau has seven categories of compassionate release. As discussed on our Compassionate Release Statistics page, between 2014 and 2018, the Bureau received 3,059 requests. Only 306 were granted, while the other 2,405 were denied. The others were not decided during this period or the inmates died before a decision could be rendered.

The New York Times found a 6 percent success rate, though that was for petitions that made it to the Director’s desk. Most compassionate release requests are denied by the Warden, prior to the Director’s review.

6. Can the court deny the reduction in sentence motion filed by the applicable U.S. Attorney?

Yes, but this is rare.

7. Where in policy or law can I learn more about compassionate release denials?

Bureau of Prisons Program Statement 5050.49, Compassionate Release/Reduction in Sentence, at § 9, U.S. Sentencing Guidelines § 1B1.13, and 28 C.F.R. § 571.63 concern compassionate release denials.

8. Is there anything that can be done to proactively avoid a denial?

The best way to head off a denial is to draft a quality compassionate release petition under the most appropriate provision and to support the petition with documentary evidence. This will ensure that a review on the merits is performed.

9. If I’ve been denied, or if I just want help with an initial petition, what should I do?

You may consider hiring a compassionate release attorney who has a proven track record of success. We at the Law Offices of Brandon Sample have considerable experience with researching, drafting, filing, and monitoring compassionate release requests. While no one can guarantee approval, we can help increase your odds through a professional presentation and intelligent use of strategic pressure. Contact us today for more information on how we can help with your compassionate release petition.

If any of your questions are not answered in these compassionate release denial FAQs, please call us at 802-444-4357.

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