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How Do I Get a Loved One Released from Prison During COVID-19?

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

April 9, 2020

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread rapidly throughout the world. In the U.S., there are more than 425,000 confirmed cases, and over 15,500 people have died from complications from the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that COVID-19 is transmitted from one person to another "through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks." The agency has recommended social distancing (keeping 6 feet apart from others) to slow the spread.

Unfortunately, in prisons, practicing such measures isn’t always easy, as they are generally overcrowded and cramped. Because of these conditions, inmates and staff at the facilities are at an increased risk of catching COVID-19. One way to curb the spread of COVID-19 in prisons is to reduce the population by releasing some inmates earlier.

What If I Have a Loved One in Federal Prison?

If you have a loved one in federal prison and are concerned about their health and safety because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can file a motion for compassionate relief. The federal law concerning early release from prison provides that if there are "extraordinary and compelling reasons to warrant" a reduction in sentence, a court may grant the petitioner’s request.

How Do I Know If My Loved One Is Eligible for Early Release?

Before a judge approves a request for compassionate relief, they will look at various factors surrounding the inmate’s case. Typically, a reduction in sentence will be granted when the individual has been imprisoned for a non-violent offense, they do not pose a danger to the community, and they have been sentenced or they have served half of their sentence.

Recently, the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida granted motions for compassionate relief because of the current crisis and the inmates’ circumstances.

In one case, a man was sentenced to 19 months of incarceration resulting from a tax evasion conviction. The man suffers from Chron’s disease and obesity, putting him at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Because the tax evasion offense was a non-violent felony, the court did not oppose the motion for compassionate relief and is allowing the man to finish the remaining 8 months of his sentence in home confinement.

In the second case, a man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for healthcare fraud, which he has served 7 years of. He suffers from severe asthma. The court also approved his motion for a reduction in sentence.

If you have a loved one who is incarcerated for a non-violent offense, early release might be available. To discuss your legal options and get help with filing a motion for compassionate relief in Miami, call Hager & Schwartz, P.A. at (305) 330-1360 or contact us online today.