Should I Hire an Attorney to Seek Compassionate Release?
A serious concern of any prisoner contemplating compassionate release is how to make the request. For most federal inmates, compassionate release is more of a hope or an idea rather than a specific process or approach to receiving a reduction in sentence. This is because most prisoners are not experts in Bureau of Prisons policy. This is why it is so important to hire an attorney to seek compassionate release.
To make matters worse, those who do satisfy the BOP's compassionate release criteria are often in the worst position possible to advocate for themselves, or to even make a trip down to their prison's law library, where they could read the BOP's compassionate release policy, as well as governing statutes and regulations.
For the above reasons and more, we at the Law Offices of Brandon Sample strongly recommend that you retain counsel to assist you or your loved one in the compassionate release process. Read our Hiring an Attorney for Compassionate Release FAQs for more information on retaining counsel to help.
Compassionate Release: An Uphill Battle
Obtaining compassionate release is an uphill battle. According to a 2013 Department of Justice Office of Inspector General report, between 2006 and 2011, only 208 compassionate release requests were reviewed by the BOP's Office of General Counsel following a recommendation of approval from the local institution's Warden. The total number of petitions received by Wardens were unknown for this period due to poor record tracking.
Another report from the The New York Times showed that between 2013 and 2017 5,400 compassionate release petitions were filed, and only six percent were granted. These compassionate release statistics are certainly disheartening.
As the data illustrates, federal inmates who seek compassionate release have a very low rate of success. While the numbers can't speak to this, inmates who retain competent counsel may have a much higher rate of success.
Our Petition Development Process: Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Seek a Compassionate Release
If retained, our first step would be to conduct an investigation into your unique situation to determine the category of compassionate release under which you qualify. Once the category is selected, we will then work to prove that all of the criteria are fulfilled. We will begin with an interview, and this will expand to a review of court records, medical records, and other available information. This will most likely include our firm contacting the Bureau of Prisons on your behalf to secure a copy of your diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis records.
With all of this information in hand, we will then draft your compassionate release petition. This petition will include the provision that you're filing under, how you meet the requirements, and other relevant background information. Attached to the petition will be a copy of relevant supporting documentation. After you review and approve of the packet, our firm will file the compassionate release package with your Warden on your behalf.
Monitoring and Intervention
After the compassionate release petition has been filed with the Bureau, we will monitor the progress of your request. This is often a highly frustrating time as the Bureau is notoriously slow and haphazard in its review of such petitions. To keep the petition on track, we will stay in contact with the Central Office Reduction in Sentence (RIS) Coordinator.
In the course of most compassionate release applications there will come a time when intervention is required. In addition to drafting an expert compassionate release petition, knowing when and how to intervene is largely a product of our extensive experience with such matters. Depending on the circumstances, we will contact specific Bureau officials to motivate them to render a decision in an expedited manner. We may also petition the Attorney General, along with Congressmen, Senators, and select, connected criminal justice nonprofits in an effort to convince them to use their political sway to motivate the Bureau of Prisons to grant your compassionate release petition.
Review of Bureau Decision and Reentry Assistance
At the end of the Bureau's review process, it will render a decision. If the Director of the Bureau of Prisons approves, the BOP will ask the U.S. Attorney for the inmate's district of sentencing to move the court for a reduction in sentence. In almost every case, the court will agree and order a reduction in sentence. If this is the case, and you so require, our firm can help your family get in contact with local agencies who can help with transportation, medical care, and other required assistance.
If, on the other hand, the Bureau denies the compassionate release request, we can offer a legal opinion on the best path forward. This could be to utilize the Administrative Remedy Program to appeal the Warden's denial, reformulate and resubmit, or wait until we believe your current situation is more likely result in a favorable Bureau disposition.
Why Hiring an Attorney Makes Sense
With all of the above in mind, hiring an attorney to assist in securing compassionate release makes sense for several important reasons.
To start, our experience enables us to develop a compassionate release petition that will help the Bureau see that you fulfill the appropriate criteria. For that matter, we can also help you to understand under what provision you'll be most likely to succeed. This document, along with supporting documentation that we include, is largely what the Bureau bases its decision on.
In addition to drafting a professional petition that fulfills all Bureau requirements, our experience enables us to know who to speak to, when, and what direction to take. Simply put, we know what buttons to push and when to push them. An added benefit to employing our firm for such matters is that our reputation precedes us. When the Bureau receives a compassionate release request on our letterhead or when they receive a communication from our attorneys, they know to proceed carefully. This is something that simply is not done when an inmate files on his or her own behalf.
But in the end, at least in our minds, it all comes down to one thing: your loved one. If you're looking to give your loved one the best possible chance at release, you should hire someone who knows all of the ins and outs of the process. Even if you don't retain our firm, we strongly suggest that you bring on someone with a proven track record of success. Your loved one deserves as much and you'll be glad you did.
If you would like to hire an attorney to seek a compassionate release, please call us at 802-444-4357.