On May 1, 2007, the Sentencing Commission amended the application notes to give the courts more guidance and discretion when hearing motions for Compassionate Release. The new application notes were intended to assist the judges hearing these cases to decide whether “extraordinary and compelling reasons” are present in a case in which the BOP brings a motion for compassionate release. The Commission’s new application notes provided that “extraordinary and compelling” reasons exist under any of the following circumstances:
1. The defendant/inmate is suffering from a terminal illness, or;
2. The defendant/inmate is suffering from a permanent physical or medical condition, or;
3. The defendant/inmate is experiencing deteriorating physical or mental health because of the aging process and this aging process substantially diminishes the ability of the defendant/inmate to provide self-care within the environment of a correctional facility and for which conventional treatment promises no substantial improvement, or;
4. The death or incapacitation of the defendant/inmate’
5. As determined by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, there exists in the defendant’s case an extraordinary and compelling reason other than, or in combination with, the reasons described above.
Neither an inmate, nor his family, nor his attorney, nor a judge may make a motion before the court for Compassionate Release. All motions for Compassionate Release must be made by the Bureau of Prisons. The good news is that any inmate has the right to apply for the Bureau of Prisons’ Compassionate Release Program. The inmate, with Jail Time Consulting’s assistance, will submit the Application to the Warden for consideration.
Michael Frantz, Director of Jail Time Consulting, a national Federal Prison Consulting company states that more and more applications for Compassionate Release are being made every day. Frantz states, “The Sentencing Commission’s new definitions for “extraordinary and compelling reasons” provide new examples of situations that should merit early release.”
Frantz goes on to say that a prisoner whose spouse dies while the person is incarcerated leaving their children with no one to care for them, could reasonably argue that these circumstances should allow for a compassionate release motion. Michael Frantz also stated that the Compassionate Release motion, previously used for inmates only, can now be used for defendants awaiting sentencing. Frantz reasoned, “ The new definitions could be used to argue for a shorter sentence for a defendant awaiting sentencing who is the only family member capable of caring for his minor child or children.” The Sentencing Commission’s new definitions provide more grounds for Compassionate Release motions than the BOP regulations imply.
Although there are eligibility requirements for Compassionate release applicants, all inmates or defendants may apply for the program. The circumstances of each case may vary, but an excellent example would be an inmate convicted of a non-violent crime who has been a model prisoner, has not caused any problems, and whose children are left with no living relative to care for them. The inmate would still have to prove that he poses no threat to the community and that he would be able to support his family, but that is the job of Jail Time Consulting.
The new definitions of the Sentencing Commission allow expanded possibilities for the Compassionate Release initiative. The particularly “extraordinary or compelling” circumstances could be a critical illness or a devastating medical illness. It could be a condition that the inmate now has that he did not have or at least did not know he had at the time of his sentencing. It may apply to a catastrophic or devastating circumstance or event involving the inmate’s family. It may also include any other unusual or unexpected adversity that the Bureau of Prisons would consider as particularly extraordinary and/or compelling circumstances.
Frantz explained that Jail Time Consulting in its initial phase will evaluate, research, and assess the safety factors the government takes into account before reducing the term of imprisonment, as well as the original factors that should have been considered by the sentencing judge when the sentence was first imposed. In addition, all the human factors that affect the inmate/defendant and his family are considered. Jail Time Consulting will weigh all these factors and gather supporting documentation, medical reports, evaluations, case histories, records and relevant information to determine if they feel the inmate/defendant would qualify for the Compassionate Release program. If they feel that the inmate/defendant would qualify, then they proceed to the second phase of the program.
If there is a consensus that both Jail Time Consulting and the inmate feel after the assessment that there is a reasonably good chance of success, they initiate with the inmate a request for Compassionate Release and move forward. If they feel that there is not a reasonably good chance of success, nothing more is due and the process is over with little cost. If they do proceed, Jail Time Consulting completes the application, does the necessary research, and compiles all the supporting documentation, information, records, and reports from all the needed sources.
“The fact is”, says Frantz the Bureau of Prisons can arrange early release for any prisoner it wants at any time, and they have the sole authority to override the provisions of the law and determine what constitutes "extraordinary and compelling" circumstances. Frantz finished by stating there are only three (3) other programs that may reduce a federal inmate’s length of incarceration in a federal prison. They are the 500-Hour Residential Drug Abuse Program, RDAP; the Second Chance Act Program; and the Commutation of Sentence Program. Jail Time Consulting has programs for each one.
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About: Michael Frantz is a leading Federal Prison Consultant with Jail Time Consulting (JTC) in South Florida. The staff of JTC provides sentence reduction strategies, research, and many pre- and post-sentencing services for their clients. Michael has authored a bestselling book on federal prison titled, “Jail Time, What you need to know…Before you go to federal prison!” He has also authored over thirty-five JT Special Reports© on various federal prison issues affecting both the inmate and his/her family. They are available on the website. He writes a daily blog on the JTC website http://jailtimeconsulting.com answering readers’ questions and comments. He is a nationally recognized authority on federal prison and has published over 40 articles nationwide. He has been contacted by ABC’s 20/20, the Oprah Winfrey network, the Fox News Network, as well as many radio and TV stations nationwide. He can be reached at 954-522-2254, 800-382-0868, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.