High Court Stays Execution Where Judge Overrode Jury Recommendation

A little over two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court in Hurst v. Florida ruled 8-1 it was unconstitutional for state judges to overrule jury sentencing recommendations in death penalty cases. The high court ruled a criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury was violated if the jury was not permitted to

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Senators Ask BOP to Consider Wider Release for Older Inmates

A dozen U.S. Senators have asked the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to consider making broader use of compassionate leave to release elderly or ill inmates as a “way to focus scarce BOP resources and improve public safety.” Federal penal institutions currently hold more than 10,000 inmates aged 60 or over. The bipartisan group of

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Elderly Prisoners in the Federal Bureau of Prisons

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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Detectives Fight For Those Still Behind Bars

Christopher Scott, Johnnie Lindsey, and Billy Smith all have something in common. They are among more than 40 other Dallas citizens exonerated from extensive sentences imposed on them for crimes they had nothing to do with. Combined, the trio has served 63 years of their lives behind prison walls. For the past 36 years, Dallas,

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Why Keep Dying Prisoners Behind Bars?

By Jean Trounstine MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry tried to take a humorous approach to the unforgiving times we live in with her letter to a turkey last week, where she asked President Obama to pardon people—not turkeys. Pardon, the act of forgiving someone’s crime, has nearly dried up in the U.S. Of people who petitioned during

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