Thousands of sick, dying, and elderly federal prisoners who are eligible for early release will have access to free legal representation through a newly established Compassionate Release Clearinghouse. The clearinghouse is a collaborative pro bono effort involving Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) It will match qualified prisoners with legal counsel if they need to pursue a case in court.
“People who can barely make it out of their beds in the morning should not have to go into court alone against the largest law firm in the nation,” said FAMM’s Kevin Ring, The clearinghouse is being assisted by the Washington, D.C., law firm of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP through partner Steve Salky. “Sick and dying prisoners for years were unjustly denied release on compassionate release grounds by the Bureau of Prisons,” said Jonathan Smith of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. The effort was made possible by the passage of the First Step Act, which allows prisoners to appeal to a sentencing judge if their petitions for release are denied or unanswered.