Webinar summary: Covid-19 and the Compassionate Release of the Elderly, Infirm or High Risk

Originally published by American Bar Association on 03/04/2020


This summary of the Covid-19 webinar identifies three main approaches to seeking the release of older, ill and at-risk prison populations during Covid-19, being: 1 – Existing Compassionate Release Mechanisms. While it appears that some judges are considering arguments that do not traditionally fit the requirements of compassionate release, barriers to obtaining such release include the rigidity of federal criteria; and procedural barriers. 2 – Political Pressure. Attempts must be made to convince political actors to reduce prison populations. 3 – Litigation. In Washington State, advocates filed a suit seeking the release of prison groups most vulnerable to serious illness and death due to Covid-19.In addition, they summary identified other approaches to securing release including: clemency and federal back-end releases.

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