Post-Election Period Will Bring Big Changes on Sentence Relief
By Derek Gilna
After the November election, there is a strong possibility that sentence relief will be on the agenda. The bills currently in Congress, which, like all pending legislation have languished because the members of Congress are more involved in keeping their jobs (getting re-elected), than helping prisoners, should be given prompt consideration for possible action.
All of the bill’s sponsors either have “safe’ seats or not up for reelection in this election cycle, so the usual political factors will not be crucial in whether these bills pass or not. Having been in
recently on a habeas case, I can tell you that there is little or no respect
for the Washington BOP either in Congress or in the DC
courts; the environment for relief has never been better. It appears that
white-collar prisoners will also be getting some relief at the hands of the
Sentencing Commission in the next cycle, and we will pass on information on
that when it is confirmed.
One of the things that shocked me is that more people are not taking advantage of compassionate release opportunities. Recently a report has been released by the United States Inspector General outlining the failure of the
to release prisoners in a timely fashion under its “Compassionate Release
Program.” I’m sure some of you have seen notices about compassionate release
posted on bulletin boards in the units, along with other BOP
news, and you might not have paid much attention to it.
However, as with many
BOP “programs,” there’s one
problem: hardly anyone is getting taking
advantage of the program. However, I recently successfully completed one. This is ot a process for inexperienced
individuals. According to the Inspector General, who works independently of
other government agencies, and certainly not for the Justice Department, only
142 prisoners were released under the program, over a five-year period. This
despite the fact that studies show that these prisoners almost never reoffend.
This is out of a prisoner population of around 220,000 in the federal system,
many of whom are ill, and not receiving proper medical care.
For many years, when the federal government and the
was flush with cash, this was not an issue. Now, with money having to be
diverted from other federal agencies to the BOP
to keep guards on the job, Congress has made it their business to get
involved. They don’t want to fund the BOP’s
obvious and well-publicized inefficiencies in releasing prisoners with
expensive health issues that cost the government millions of dollars a year.
Perhaps you or someone you know qualifies for this program. I would welcome the opportunity to represent you in this endeavor to win an earlier release, as well as explore other options for release.