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Successful Compassionate Release: Case Study

While securing compassionate release is no easy task, we here at the Law Offices of Brandon Sample have experience in helping clients do just that. One such case which we are aware of occurred in 2016, and shows how with proper representation, securing compassionate release is possible. This is a great example of a compassionate release success.

Inmate Background

Starting in 2013, Sarah suffered from an undiagnosed medical condition while serving a federal prison sentence for bank robbery.* Initially, this presented as a tingling and then dropping off her left foot. Eventually, she required a brace to hold her foot in place to walk, then a cane, and was ultimately confined to a wheelchair.Compassionate Release Success

Over the course of three years, the Bureau of Prisons medical staff failed to diagnose or treat this unknown condition. She languished in prison for three years while her medical condition continuously deteriorated. The only thing that was evident was that she was suffering from some type of neurological condition.

After three years of seeking medical help, Bureau medical staff diagnosed her as suffering from ALS, a terminal medical condition. Clearly, Sarah was a good candidate for a compassionate release success.

Researching and Drafting the Compassionate Release Petition

Once Sarah retained counsel to assist with securing compassionate release, the attorney she hired took immediate action.

The attorney initially had Sarah sign a release so that he could communicate with the Bureau of Prisons directly. Then he obtained a copy of her medical records. Next, he interviewed Sarah via a legal call and spoke to her family to fully understand her specific situation. This is important because the compassionate release petition itself needs to also include the inmate's release plans (including employment, medical, and financial considerations). With this information in hand, the attorney drafted her compassionate release petition.

While the petition itself is a fairly simple document to draft, the key is to explain exactly how the client's situation fits into the BOP's criteria for a compassionate release. This requires detailed knowledge of Bureau of Prisons Program Statement 5050.49, Compassionate Release/Reduction in Sentence. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Brandon Sample are intimately familiar with PS 5050.49.

In accordance with the Bureau's compassionate release policy -- as well as governing Code of Federal Regulations, United States Code, and U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual -- the attorney was able to determine that Sarah qualified for compassionate release under the Terminal Medical Condition criteria, PS 5050.49(3)(a).

This put Sarah on the path to a compassionate release success.

Submission and Routing of Petition

With the petition in hand, the attorney first asked Sarah and her family to review the draft to ensure that he captured her situation in accordance with their wishes. Upon review and approval, the attorney filed the compassionate release petition with her Warden to start the compassionate release process.

Once Sarah's Warden received the petition, he assigned it to the applicable Case Manager Coordinator (CMC) to handle institutional proceedings. Since this petition was based on a terminal medical condition, the Clinical Director for her prison was contacted to conduct a review. He drafted a report for the Warden's review which outlined Sarah's ALS diagnosis and which recommended that compassionate release be granted.

Upon receipt and review of the Clinical Director's report and recommendations, Sarah's Warden recommended that the petition be granted and then forwarded the petition, along with his written recommendation, to the Office of General Counsel. General Counsel agreed with the Warden's recommendation and forwarded the request to the Bureau's Medical Director for review since the petition was based on a terminal medical condition. The Medical Director also agreed, and the petition was sent to the Director for review.

The Director granted the petition. In doing so, he submitted it to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. The U.S. Attorney then filed a motion under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) for a reduction in sentence, which was granted in March 2016.

Notification of Compassionate Release Success and Actual Release

A social worker at Sarah's prison was the first one to tell her that she would be released, which occurred within three days of the judge's order granting the compassionate release. Her family was also contacted and got connected with a local ALS support organization which assisted in the transition. This required moving specialized medical equipment into the house, along with scheduling a nurse for daily visits.

Upon her flight landing, the local ALS organization arrived in a handicap van to pick Sarah up and drive her home, where her whole family gathered with "Sarah Strong" t-shirts. While a bittersweet moment, Sarah was able to stay at home and be with her family until she passed.

We were sad to see Sarah pass away, but were immensely proud that she got home so that she could be with her family in her last few weeks. This was a great compassionate release success.

*The inmate's name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Call us today at 802-444-4357 to enjoy your own compassionate release success!

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