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.