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Sen. Schatz Leads Call for Expansion of Compassionate Prison Program

August 6, 2017, 12:00 PM HST
* Updated August 5, 5:25 PM
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Sen. Brian Schatz. Courtesy photo.

A bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) is urging the Department of Justice to expand the Compassionate Sentence Reduction Program to provide low-risk, elderly or terminally ill inmates the opportunity to appeal for early release.

The senators sent a letter to acting Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Thomas Kane and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to review and explain their plans to follow recommendations from the Department of Justice Inspector General to expand the program.

According to multiple reports, the sentence reduction program could save millions in medical care spending, while freeing up critical resources in the federal prison system and improving public safety.

“BOP needs to take a hard look at expanding the use of compassionate release of certain federal prisoners as a way to focus scarce BOP resources and improve public safety,” the senators wrote. “BOP should make the compassionate release process more efficient and use that authority to the full extent provided by the Commission’s guidance.”

Senator Schatz was joined by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

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