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The First Step Act of 2018 and Petitions for Compassionate Release in New York and Miami

Federal criminal lawyers in New York and Miami federal districts have led the nation in seeking and obtaining Compassionate Releases, Furloughs, and sentence mitigation. Some attorneys in Miami and New York can and often obtain release from prison for their client-federal-detainees. This became possible with the sentencing reforms created by the 2018 First Step Act, which created a path for lawyers to litigate Compassionate Release petitions in Federal District Courts. Now, after waiting 30 days for the Bureau of Prisons to decide or not on Compassionate Release Petitions. Your attorney can bring the request before a Federal Judge in your jurisdiction, be that Miami, New York, or California, no matter where you are, the process exists. Before you sit with your attorney, become familiar with the concepts and ‘terms of art’ of: ‘administrative appeal process,’ ‘Compassionate Release Petition,’ ‘extraordinary and compelling,’ and ‘other reasons.’ You may think you know those word phrases, but you don’t. Those terms, their meaning, and how to apply them when you seek Compassionate Release or sentencing mitigation, are litigated every week in Miami and New York federal courts by federal criminal attorneys. Build your knowledge and concept understanding by learning to master what these terms are and mean:

Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

Before your criminal attorney can ask a federal judge to grant your Compassionate Release Petition from your New York or Miami federal judge, you MUST let the Bureau of Prisons go through their internal administrative appeal process.

Petitions for Furlough, requests for relocation within the BOP system, requests for the BOP to mitigate a sentence by permitting a prisoner to serve his or her time in Home Confinement, and other Petitions and Requests are within the power of the BOP to grant or deny. Those forms of sentence mitigation can only be reviewed by a Federal Judge after you have exhausted all the administrative appeal and review processes and steps.

Regardless of where your loved one is serving time, be it New York, Florida, California, it doesn’t matter: if your attorney is working for a modification that is within the power of the BOP to grant, or denies, you have to exhaust the BOP administrative relief process.

By illustration, let’s look at a prisoner in the Miami federal prison who requests a transfer from in-custody confinement to home confinement. Step one is to file a BOP form 9 with the Warden at the prison camp in Miami. The Warden has thirty days and another thirty days extension to decide. If you are not happy with the Miami prison’s Warden decision, then you have to file a BOP 10 form to appeal the Warden’s decision to the Regional Headquarters of the BOP. Regional offices can take 60 days, and another 30 days extension before deciding to overrule your Miami Warden, or deny your Petition. From the Regional Office, you can appeal it to the BOP General Counsel and the Director in Washington, DC. There it can take another 30 or 60 days. Only after this administrative review process can you consider bringing your Petition before a Federal Judge in Miami. But a federal judge cannot override the BOP unless the BOP either denied you a constitutionally guaranteed right (not much there, sorry) or failed to follow the process of Administrative Review (again, not a hopeful or likely good outcome if you claim that). All this is completely different if you are seeking Compassionate Release from your Miami Warden because the First Step Act of 2018 permits you to go directly before your Miami or New York federal district court Judge after only thirty days. This is the big deal that the 2018 First Step Act makes for a Petition for Compassionate Release. But you are not nearly done yet because you now have to understand what the 2018 First Step Act does when it addresses another set of ‘magic words’ or ‘terms of legal art’…and those terms are ‘extraordinary and compelling reasons.’ Do not confuse your understanding of those words as used in spoken English. The term “extraordinary and compelling” and the term “other reasons” is the thing to discuss and explore with your New York or Miami federal criminal defense attorney. The reason is those terms and concepts are, as I write, being litigated by criminal lawyers in New York and Miami federal courts. These terms and their importance change from month to month and from court to court and from Federal District to Federal District. So if you are seeking a Compassionate Release Petition for a someone in federal prison do not do this alone: find and get help from an experienced criminal attorney who is involved in the process of federal sentencing mitigation, Compassionate Release Petition litigation and federal sentencing mitigation.

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