Can My Loved One Be Released Early from Prison Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Hands of a person handcuffed in jail

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one of the best ways to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus is to practice social distancing, which limits exposure by requiring people to stay at least 6 feet away from others. Although people living in the general population might be able to adhere to these guidelines, what about those who are incarcerated?

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Even when we are not experiencing a global pandemic, prisons are a hotbed for disease. Inmates typically live in enclosed quarters with little ventilation, and implementing a mass quarantine is not feasible. With COVID-19 spreading so quickly, people in prison are at an increased risk of contracting the disease. Additionally, inmates are usually older or suffer from severe illnesses, making them more vulnerable to infection.

The CDC states that people with the following conditions are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19:

  • Chronic lung disease or severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Immunocompromised conditions
  • Severe obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease

Can My Loved One Be Released Early from Prison Because of COVID-19?

The rapid spread of COVID-19 and the greater risks inmates face because of their living conditions have raised concerns about inmates' health. Many claim that the most effective way to keep inmates (and staff healthy) is to reduce the prison population. This has led to some courts across the nation granting reductions in sentences for some inmates.

If you have a loved one in prison, you may be able to file a motion for compassionate relief to have them considered for early release. These are typically granted when there are "extraordinary and compelling reasons to warrant such a reduction." The current circumstances resulting from COVID-19 may justify an early release.

Before a judge approves your request for compassionate release, they will consider various factors about your loved one's case, including whether they:

  • Were convicted for a non-violent offense
  • Were sentenced or have served at least half of their sentence
  • Pose a danger to the community

Contact Cohen Forman Barone for Legal Help

If you are seeking a reduction in your loved one's sentence through compassionate relief, allow our team of criminal defense attorneys to guide you through the process. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience and know how to navigate the complexities of the justice system.

To learn more about the process of filing a motion for early release in New York City, call us at (212) 577-9314 or contact us online today.

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