Compassionate Release in South Carolina

Most individuals sentenced to incarceration in federal prison are not eligible for parole under any circumstances unless their conviction stems from an offense committed to prior to November 1, 1987. Under certain circumstances, though, imprisoned individuals may be eligible for what is known as “compassionate release” based on their poor health, advanced age, or certain other exceptional circumstances.

If you would like to explore your options for compassionate release in South Carolina, you should schedule a conversation with a qualified federal criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Petitioning for compassionate release is a multi-step process with very specific criteria that must be met, so retaining skilled legal counsel is often essential to achieving a positive result.

Who May Qualify for Compassionate Release?

To be eligible for compassionate release from federal prison in South Carolina, a prisoner must have “extraordinary and compelling reasons” to warrant a reduction in the length of their federal imprisonment term, as per 18 U.S.C. §3582(c). In practice, this means they must pose no risk to public safety because they are either permanently incapacitated, terminally ill, or geriatric. In limited circumstances, compassionate release may be available if the sole family caregiver for a prisoner’s minor child dies or becomes incapacitated, leaving that child without any parent or guardian.

A prisoner may be considered permanently incapacitated if they have a non-terminal medical condition that either completely disables them to the point that they confined to a bed or chair and cannot care for their daily needs on their own, or to the point that they spend at least 50 percent of their waking hours in a bed or chair and can only care for their daily needs on a limited basis. For a terminal illness to qualify a prisoner for compassionate release, it must be incurable and expected to cause the prisoner’s death within 18 months, and it must have been unknown when they first received their sentence or have progressed significantly since that time.

Finally, inmates who are at least 65 years old, have served at least 30 years in prison or at least 50 percent of their sentence, and whose physical and/or mental health has significantly deteriorated due to chronic age-related medical conditions that cannot be substantially improved through conventional treatment may be eligible for compassionate release. However, individuals sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or to death are not eligible for any kind of compassionate release.

The Impact of the Novel Coronavirus on Reductions in Federal Sentencing

Thanks to the passage of the First Step Act in 2018, federal inmates in South Carolina can now file a motion for compassionate release themselves, rather than being forced to depend on the warden of the facility where they were imprisoned to do so on their behalf. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many federal courts to reconsider what circumstances may serve as an “extraordinary and compelling” reason to shorten a convicted defendant’s stay in federal prison.

Across the United States, outbreaks of the novel coronavirus in several federal prisons have led some federal courts to allow compassionate release for low- and medium-security inmates with pre-existing medical conditions that put them at severe risk of fatal complications from a COVID-19 infection. A federal criminal defense lawyer could discuss this shift in court opinion more thoroughly during a consultation.

Talk to a South Carolina Attorney About Compassionate Release from Incarceration

Asking for compassionate release from federal prison is far from a simple endeavor, and there are unfortunately low chances of success even for individuals who meet the criteria for this special form of parole. Fortunately, assistance is available from tenacious legal professionals who could fight tirelessly on behalf of a sick, incapacitated, or geriatric prisoner for their right to fair treatment under the law.

If you or a family member would like to learn more about compassionate release in South Carolina, a consultation with a federal criminal defense lawyer could address all your questions and concerns. Get started on your case today.