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Compassionate Release: The Warden’s Workload

Every application for compassionate release from federal prison must pass through the Warden’s office. The Warden is the gatekeeper, and must gather a voluminous amount of information prior to making a decision on a compassionate release request. Additionally, the Warden is responsible for preparing a referral package if the compassionate release request is approved at the institutional level.

Step One: The Warden Gathers Information

The information and documentation that the Warden must gather varies depending on the nature of the request. For instance, if the request is based on the incapacitation of a spouse or registered partner, the Warden will warden compassionate releaserequire significant amounts of information relating to the spouse or partner. If the request is based on a terminal medical condition, then the Warden will gather and review health records and medical opinions.

Regardless of the extraordinary and compelling reason justifying a request for compassionate release, the Warden will collect and review the following information:

-Information and documentation relating to the prisoner’s crime and criminal history, including the nature of the offense, the length of sentence and amount of time served, supervised release violations and unresolved detainers.

-Information relating to the prisoner’s personal history, including current age and age at sentencing, institutional adjustment (including disciplinary infractions) and other information from the presentence report.

-Comments from victims.

-The prisoner’s release plans.

-Whether release would minimize the severity of the offense.

Step Two: The Warden’s Referral Package

If the Warden determines that compassionate release is appropriate, the Warden will refer the matter to the Office of General Counsel. When making this referral, the Warden sends a comprehensive package of documentation, including the following:

-The Warden’s written recommendation along with any other writings from staff members relative to the request.

-The prisoner’s Judgment and Commitment Order and all sentencing computation data.

-The most recent progress report. The progress report must be less than 30 days old, and should indicate that all detainers and holds have been resolved. If a pending charge or detainer has not been resolved, the Warden must provide an explanation.

-If the request is based on a medical condition, all pertinent medical records, including but not limited to a comprehensive medical summary by the attending physician, which should include life expectancy, test results, consultation reports and referrals.

-A copy of the presentence report, a copy of Form U.S.A. 792–Report on Convicted Offender by U.S. Attorney, the most recent custody and classification form, Probation Form 7a, information on fines and the Central Inmate Monitoring Case Information Summary.

-Information as to whether the prisoner is in the Witness Protection Program. If so, the referral package should include confirmation that the appropriate victim(s) and witness(es) have been notified.

-If a term of supervised release will follow compassionate release, confirmation that U.S. Probation has approved the release plans. However, even if the prisoner will not have a term of supervised release, release plans must still be included. Release plans must include, at a minimum, residence and financial information. Release plans may also include coordination with a variety of social service agencies and the prisoner’s family.

Upon sending this packet to General Counsel, the Warden’s involvement in the compassionate release process will have concluded.

The Compassionate Release Process

See our discussion on the compassionate release process for a more detailed overview of the moving parts involved. Likewise, see our compassionate release in federal prison page for a top-level overview of compassionate release in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

We strongly recommend that you consider hiring competent counsel when seeking a compassionate release. First impressions matter. This is doubly true when a reduction in sentence is being requested. We at the Law Offices of Brandon Sample have considerable experience in such matters and are available to assist you with your needs today.

To learn more about the Warden’s involvement in the compassionate release process, call us at 802-444-4357.

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