Compassionate Release: Special Information from COVID-19 / Coronavirus Criminal Attorney in Florida
Thousands of low-risk federal inmates have been released from jails and prisons across numerous states and counties as the coronavirus continues to run rampant. Inmates particularly at risk of catching the coronavirus – such as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are more likely to be released.
In fact, many criminal-justice reform advocates are urging President Trump to grant clemency to commute the sentences of numerous federal inmates who may be eligible for “compassionate release”.
Other experts are urging all states’ Governors to name a high-level health coordinator to address the growing problem and health concern many low-risk state prisoners face.
Intense pressure is on the federal prison system to take similar action, but those in prison and currently incarcerated know as well as us that when it comes to federal inmate’s needs it’s unfortunately usually a long, drawn out process.
In this situation with the fast spread of the coronavirus – there is no time to waste.
In a mid-March news conference, Trump said he is contemplating an executive order to discharge elderly, nonviolent offenders from federal prison. It’s now mid-April and no order has been announced even though the virus is actively spreading through the federal prison population.
Track the Virus in prisons
Florida is currently leading the nation in inmate death rates due to COVID-19, an Oct. 25 Op-Ed from the Sun Sentinel reported.
COVID-19 has killed 154 Florida prison inmates as of Oct. 25. Florida inmate deaths are a close second to Texas, leading the nation with 161 inmate deaths due to COVID-19. Florida leads the nation in COVID-19 inmate death rate, however. Texas may have more deaths, but Texas also has about twice as many prisoners in their state compared to Florida. That means Florida’s death rate for prisoners who contract COVID-19 is about twice as high as Texas.
“Florida prisoners are being infected and dying at dramatically higher rates than Florida’s overall population,” the editorial sites.
Florida’s prisons, compared to Florida as a whole:
- More than 4x as many COVID-19 infections
- More than 2x more deaths compared to infection rate
- Prison employees in Florida have contracted COVID-19 at a rate 3x higher than general public
“The first line of defense against the deadly coronavirus should be to release as many inmates as safely possible,” the editorial suggests. It adds that ideal candidates for release are people who have served most of their sentence, committed nonviolent crimes and who pose little danger to society.
As of 04/14/2020, there are 446 federal inmates and 248 Bureau Of Prisons staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 20 inmates and 13 staff have recovered. There have been 14 federal inmate deaths. Learn more at this map to track the virus here.
Attorney General William Barr did put out a memo to increase the use of home confinement for some federal inmates. He requested leaders of the federal prison system to prioritize the use of statutory authorities to release eligible prisoners early to home confinement while recognizing that some susceptible inmates may be more endangered from the deadly virus separate from the crowded prison housings.
Advocates and prison officials have warned that the close confines of a correctional facility could quickly become a hotbed for the deadly illness.
“We have some of the best-run prisons in the world and I am confident in our ability to keep inmates in our prisons as safe as possible from the pandemic currently sweeping across the globe,” Barr wrote in the memo.
Each case is different, however, and how the government will decide who will be given liberty and those who may face the terrible sickness of COVID-19 or even death will be determined by those who may not weigh your individual case on its merits.
If you believe you may apply for early release, compassionate release, or home confinement but are worried you may not be granted your request; you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Rossen Law Firm is a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney, and we’re working together with other local attorneys we trust with extensive federal case experience to help inmates get compassionate release. Our partners are former Assistant State Attorneys for Broward County and Assistant United States Attorney for the government. If you or a loved one are currently incarcerated for a nonviolent crime, or are elderly or have a health condition, and believe you may apply for compassionate release — Rossen law Firm can be your guide through this and work with you with our partners and knowledge of the Federal Law to increase the chances of your possibility of release.
Don’t wait – reach out today. Call our office at (754) 206 -6200.
“This is a real disaster waiting to happen… these are places that are particularly susceptible to contagion,” said Executive Director of the Federal Defenders of New York David Patton to reporters soon after Trump’s news conference. He made these comments soon after the first federal inmate tested positive for COVID-19 at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center.
The Bureau of Prisons reported the first federal prisoner died March 29 due to COVID-19 in Louisiana. He was serving time for a drug conviction and was transferred to a hospital March 19 due to complaints of a persistent cough. He was placed on a ventilator the next day after testing COVID-19 positive, and his health deteriorated quickly.
By the time he died, at least 5 other federal inmates at the same prison also tested positive. At least three of those inmates have since died.
People who are detained and prison staff are part of the same community which are quickly becoming reservoirs of infection.
Locked up in an everyday dirty, unsanitary setting with unacceptable low standards of healthcare will easily drive the entire epidemic up — just as we’re trying to flatten the curve of this pandemic. Prisoners and staff, some working multiple shifts, expose those inside as well as outside these federal prisons and detention centers who are dependent on day to day survival with great danger and peril all around them.
For example, the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami is a low-security United States federal prison for male inmates in Florida. Operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice, it houses many low-level offenders that may be on the bubble of an inmate being considered for release through this method where overcrowding as a whole is undermining public safety.
A qualified, knowledgeable attorney whose practice focuses on federal law can make all the difference for early release as opposed to just hoping you are one of the lucky who applies for this option under consideration by the powers that be.
If someone you care about is incarcerated in federal prison as the coronavirus spreads exponentially, we urge you to contact our office at (754) 206-6200 as soon as you can. We will personally look into the possibility of our assistance with compassionate release, and other methods of early discharge from a federal facility.
Keep in mind that legal visits were suspended for a thirty-day period by emergency order as of March 15, 2020. On April 15, 2020 the suspension will be re-evaluated. Case-by-case consent at the local level and confidential legal calls will be permitted in order to ensure access to my counsel. If approved for an in-person visit by the institution the inmate is located in, the attorney will need to undergo screening using the same methods as the current prison staff does before he can meet with an inmate.
Access to legal counsel remains an overriding concern by the federal prison system and will be accommodated to the maximum extent feasible. Although, as mentioned above, legal visits have been generally suspended for thirty days but case-by-case accommodations will be made in each individual situation.
- Letter to Attorney General William Barr (FAMM)
- Letter to Attorney General William Barr (Federal Public & Community Defenders Legislative Committee)
- Locked up: No masks, sanitizer as virus spreads behind bars (Associated Press)
- Spread of coronavirus accelerates in U.S. jails and prisons (Reuters)
- Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (Prison Policy Initiative)
- Federal Bureau of Prisons (COVID-19 Mitigation)
- Federal Bureau of Prisons (Monitoring the Spread of COVID-19)
- RELATED → Florida’s Lethal Indifference to prisoners dying of Covid-19: Florida leads the nation in inmate death rate