U.S. Inmates Die Without “Compassionate Release,” Fixes Could Take 2 Years


Many federal inmates die while their requests for “compassionate release” drift through the system, NPR reports. NPR tells the story of Clarence Allen Rice, who died of cancer in prison before he could gain release. Michael Horowitz, Justice Department inspector general, found the compassionate release program poorly managed and rife with confusion. “If you’re going to tell inmates that they can only apply if they show that they have less than a certain number of months to live, there needs to be some standards in place so that the people processing these papers understand they’ve got to make the decisions quickly,” he says. Mary Price of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, which advocates for inmates and their relatives, says only about two dozen inmates a year get compassionate release, though thousands may be eligible under that program – including more than 100 inmates over age 80. The Federal Bureau of Prisons didn’t want said it would do a better job of letting inmates know about the program, cut down on how many people need to approve the requests, and start tracking them electronically. Making all those changes could take two years.

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