By Christopher Zoukis

Introduction: A Loyal Prison Law Blog Reader Writes

Earlier this week, a loyal Prison Law Blog reader presented a situation to us and asked for our help.  The reader said that his elderly family member, who’s currently incarcerated in the Federal Bureau of Prisons on a crack cocaine related offense, had served 24 years in prison — has maintained a clean disciplinary record — and just turned 72.  The question was simple, and a good one, too: “Is there any way that he can petition to be released due to his age and the length of time he’s been in prison?”  While there is no easy answer to this situation, a discussion of the applicable regulations at hand is warranted.  This blog post will provide a top-level overview of early release opportunities for elderly offenders who are incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The Regulation At Hand: 18 U.S.C. § 3582 (c)(a)(A)(ii)

To start, there is law which specifically allows for the release of elderly offenders incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(ii) provides that the sentencing court, upon motion of the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, may reduce the term of imprisonment for a defendant who is “at least 70 years of age, has served at least 30 years in prison . . . for the offense or offenses for which the defendant is currently imprisoned, and a determination has been made by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons that the defendant is not a danger to the safety of any other person or the community . . .”*1  As such, there is regulation and precedent for elderly offenders to be released early, but rarely do facts combine into a perfect storm where the motion or request would be granted.

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Dianne Frazee-Walker Past the stench, unopened food containers, and manila folders covering the window of the “medical bubble” laid William “Lefty” Gilday in his own urine and feces. William Gilday had been tagged “Lefty” not because of his politics, but because he was a southpaw during his stint in the minor leagues. Gilday went from…

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During my seven years of incarceration, I have rarely seen much in the way of kindness and the human spirit.  There have been a few surprise moments.  These usually revolve around a surprise birthday meal, a Christmas gift from an unexpected source, or the unexpected dispensation of compassion to someone truly in need.  But, for…

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In today’s deeply entrenched political climate, I was amazed to see that a longtime Republican politician had announced that he now supports gay marriage, making him the only sitting GOP Senator to affirm such a position. Senator Bob Portman of Ohio, who had voted in support of the Defense of Marriage Act as a member of…

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By Christopher Zoukis Casandra Brawley, a prisoner at the Washington Correctional Center for Women, had been leaking amniotic fluid for three days when she was finally granted medical aid.  Ms. Brawley was shackled and then transported to a local hospital.  At the hospital, she was shackled to a hospital bed during labor, which was in…

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The New York Times recently published an editorial piece in their Sunday Review entitled “Unfair Punishments: Denying ex-offenders food stamps and welfare encourages dangerous behavior like prostitution” (Sunday, March 17, 2013).  The editorial discussed the link between restricting food stamps and welfare from felons and their engaging in high-risk behaviors like prostitution in an attempt…

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