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Compassionate Release

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic prisons and jails have been under pressure to protect inmate safety. General William Barr has called on officials running prisons to utilize early release policies in order to help halt the spread of this infectious disease. That means qualified prisoners who are most vulnerable to the virus, due to age or medical conditions, would be able to finish off their sentence from home. If you or someone you love believe you qualify for compassionate release, call the Law Offices of William Kroger today at (323) 655-5700 to schedule a free consultation.

Compassionate Release Qualifications

Almost every state already has compassionate release programs for prisoners who are elderly, terminally ill, sick, or debilitated. But the statistics for how many inmates are released this way are pretty low. The standards for eligibility are strict and there are multiple reviews necessary in order to be approved.

The implementation of General Barr’s call for compassionate release amid COVID-19 concerns has not been smooth so far. Prisons have argued that their conditions are up to par and capable of handling an outbreak, and have been reluctant to allow the proposed home sentences. However, judges are loosening the usually strict requirements and taking a look at compassionate release pleas from those that usually wouldn’t qualify. For example, at the moment just the age of the prisoner is a big enough factor since it’s a large risk-factor for the disease. Obviously there is a lot of concern about prisoners who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease.

According to the Bureau of Prisons, they are currently prioritizing those prisoners who have served at least 50 percent of their sentence, or who have less than 18 months left on their sentence and have served at least 25 percent of it.

Compassionate Release in California

Fortunately for inmates in California, governor Gavin Newsom announced in March that 3,500 nonviolent inmates would be released in order to reduce prison populations and slow the spread of the disease. This would be the largest release in any state. The governor specified that prisoners doing time for violent crimes, sex offenses or domestic abuse, are not eligible for an early release.

Overall, compassionate release is in the best interest of everyone at the moment. Prisons suffer from basic hygiene issues since there is no hand sanitizer and soap often has to be purchased by the prisoner. Poor hygiene is a breeding ground for the spread of the virus. And if a prison with a large population allows for the spread of COVID-19, it will completely overload the medical system.

The move to release prisoners early is not only beneficial to inmates, but to those who work at these facilities as well. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation stated on their website that as of April 26th there are “176 incarcerated persons who have tested positive for COVID-19...and 120 CDCR/CCHCS employees who have tested positive.” Lowering overcrowding by allowing early release would help increase the safety for all involved.

Contact A Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

The United States has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the entire world. And a prison or jail cell is the last place anyone wants to find himself or herself in during a pandemic. A correctional facility is a place where inmates have to share cells, showers, and dining areas, and this is perfect territory for an infectious disease like COVID-19 to spread. There is no possibility to successfully execute social distancing under such conditions, and inmates who are eligible should not have to risk their lives when they can successfully and safely finish their sentence at home. If you or someone you know is eligible for compassionate release, call our office today at (323) 655-5700 to speak with one of our attorneys.

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