COVID-19 Bail/Transfer and Compassionate Release Applications
Citizens, lawyers and members of Congress recognize the significant health risks that inmates face as a result of COVID-19. On March 19, 2020, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris of California wrote to the director of the United States Bureau Of Prisons (BOP) advising that “[e]merging research has demonstrated how dangerous coronavirus is for the elderly and those with underlying conditions and compromised immune systems.” Senator Harris further observed that, rather than releasing high-risk inmates, BOP is enforcing additional penal measures despite the high stakes, “responding to the threat of coronavirus with extreme measures that both maintain current levels of incarceration and penalize the incarcerated community—including by suspending social and legal visitation, suspending inmate facility transfers, and potentially locking down institutions.” In their March 19, 2020 letter to United States Attorney General William G.Barr, Congressmen Jerold Nadler of New York and Karen Bass of California stated that “it is incontrovertible that, if [the United States Department of Justice] does not act aggressively to address the COVID-19 threat, federal jails and prisons could quickly become epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In response to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, New York Criminal Defense Attorney Mark I. Cohen has successfully brought on bail applications to have pre-trial United States detainees released from custody pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142.
With respect to sentenced inmates, medically vulnerable United States prisoners may immediately apply for transfer from custody to home detention or early release. (Attorney General Barr-March 26, 2020 Memorandum for Director of Bureau of Prisons -Prioritization of Home Confinement, Attorney General Barr-April 3, 2020 Memo on Expanding and Maximizing Home Confinement)). A request (either from a lawyer or from an inmate) for release to home confinement is not a request for an “early release” from a sentence. It is merely Attorney General Barr’s home confinement initiative, under the newly relaxed CARES Act standards. It is merely a request for a “transfer” from one place of imprisonment to another, that is, from the prison to home detention. The inmate remains under BOP jurisdiction, continues to serve their sentence of imprisonment, and can be called back at any time despite committing no new misconduct or rules violations. The sentence itself is not modified in any way.
Federal prisoners may now have their sentences reduced through compassionate release applications known as RIS Requests. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) permits a sentenced inmate to file a motion with the Court following an adverse determination of an inmate’s request that the BOP file a motion to modify the inmate’s sentence, or 30 days from BOP’s receipt of a request that it file such a motion. Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i), the Court may modify a term of imprisonment upon a finding that there are “extraordinary and compelling reasons” to merit a reduction.
New York Criminal Defense Attorney Mark I. Cohen has successfully sought the release of both current pre-trial inmate detainees in the SDNY and post-conviction detainees within the 2d. Circuit Court of Appeals jurisdiction. If you wish to assist a vulnerable detainee/inmate seek release from their current custody status, contact Mark I. Cohen, New York Criminal Defense Attorney now!