Compassionate release (also known as “early medical release” or “medical parole”) refers to a range of programs and policies through which an incarcerated patient may obtain early release, typically for a severely debilitating or terminal illness. Nearly all states and the federal Bureau of Prisons have compassionate release policies, although guidelines vary significantly from state to state. Many policies or guidelines are changing during COVID-19.
Older incarcerated people and those with certain chronic medical conditions face increased risk of serious illness and death if infected with COVID-19 and thus may now be eligible for compassionate release.
The team at Amend has put together several resources to aid health care professionals/advocates in requesting compassionate release for incarcerated patients.
- Recommended Principles and Practices for Public Health-Focused Decarceration (pdf)
- This document outlines how to approach reducing population density inside correctional facilities in order to curb disease transmission. Compassionate release is one part of a larger public health-oriented decarceration strategy described in this set of policy guidelines.
- Webinar: Prognostication in Correctional Healthcare in the Setting of COVID-19
- Understanding prognostication is a critical piece of recommending compassionate release. In the setting of COVID-19, a patient’s prognosis must be revisited to account for the fact that patients who might not normally be considered to have a prognosis of 6 months or less are now in that category due to the grave danger of death posed by contracting this virus. This webinar includes a general introduction to the art and science of prognostication and reviews its application to justifying early medical release.
- Compassionate Release Sample Narrative Letter and Checklist Letter
- These sample letters demonstrate how health care providers can communicate complex information about a patient’s medical history and functional status, as well as their risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, to governing bodies. Download the pdf, edit as needed for your jurisdiction
- Advance Care Planning Resource Guide
- Click here for information about advance care planning and resources for patients who are incarcerated
Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) provides critical support to families, healthcare professionals and attorneys throughout the compassionate release petitioning process.