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The Latest on COVID-19 Compassionate Release

The outbreak of COVID-19 among the Bureau of Prisons’ facilities has been well-documented by now. The Director of the BOP recently announced that, of the few thousand inmates had been tested by the end of April, 70% tested positive for COVID-19.

While Attorney General Barr has issued guidance urging the BOP to “maximize” its use of home confinement, and has in fact expanded the class of inmates eligible for home confinement through the CARES Act, the BOP has been slow to reduce inmates. To date, the BOP’s “Coronavirus Update” page, which includes the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates and staff and the facilities experiencing outbreaks, states that less than 2% of its inmates have been placed in home confinement. Additionally, a lack of testing among BOP makes clear that the BOP’s numbers understate the true number of cases among inmates and staff.

As a result, inmates are filing motions for “Compassionate Release” under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A), through which a court can modify a defendant’s sentence based on finding “extraordinary and compelling reasons” warrant such a modification. However, there are requirements an inmate must meet before filing a motion under 3582(c), including a requirement that the inmate submit a request to the BOP first.

Our firm has been contacted and retained by several inmates across the country, some of whom have serious medical conditions or are at BOP facilities experiencing significant outbreaks of COVID-19. Each case is different based on the condition of the inmate and the BOP facility involved.

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