Thursday, May 2, 2013

DOJ Report Recommends More Compassionate Release for Prisoners

According to a New York Times article, a recent report by the Department of Justice Inspector General recommends that the federal Bureau of Prisons utilize compassionate release more often to save money and reduce overcrowding.
The federal Bureau of Prisons could save taxpayer money and reduce overcrowding if it better managed a program for the “compassionate release” of inmates who are dying or facing other extraordinary circumstances, according to a new report by the Justice Department’s independent inspector general.

The federal prison system does not allow the parole of inmates before their sentences are completed, but in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, Congress authorized the bureau to request that a judge reduce an inmate’s sentence for “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances. Such compassionate release does not have to be for reasons of terminal illness, but it generally is.

The 85-page report, released on Wednesday by Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, examined compassionate releases from 2006 to 2011. It recommended that the bureau make greater use of its ability to release inmates who are taking up bed space — and using costly medical services — but who pose relatively little risk to the public because of factors like their age or poor health.

“We concluded that an effectively managed compassionate release program would result in cost savings for the B.O.P., as well as assist the B.O.P. in managing its continually growing inmate population and the resulting capacity challenges it is facing,” it said. “We further found that such a program would likely have a relatively low rate of recidivism.”

The recidivism rate within three years for all former federal inmates is around 41 percent. By contrast, just 5 of the 142 inmates released for compassionate reasons — or 3.5 percent — in the studied period were rearrested within three years, it said...

Charles E. Samuels Jr., the bureau’s director, said that he accepted most of the report’s recommendations, and that some improvements were already under way.
The entire article is available here.  The DOJ Inspector General Report is available here.

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