American Conservative Union Foundation Calls On Bureau Of Prisons To Better Use Compassionate Release Authority For Sick And Elderly Offenders

Washington, DC, December 7, 2017 – With Christmas approaching, the American Conservative Union Foundation (“ACUF”) is calling on the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) to use the authority given to it by law to offer compassionate release to more terminally ill and elderly offenders. ACUF is working with FreedomWorks, the R Street Institute, Families Against Mandatory Minimums and a number of faith-based organizations to address this important issue.

“Terminally ill offenders and the elderly pose little danger to our neighborhoods and communities. As they face their ultimate reckoning, there is no good reason to keep them behind bars and separated from their families,” said Pat Nolan, the Director of ACUF’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform.

The financial cost to care for sick and elderly prisoners has exploded as the prison population ages. According to the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (“OIG”), BOP healthcare costs have increased 30% over the past five years, in large part due to the aging of the prison population. Health care costs to treat elderly offenders are four to eight times the cost of treating younger prisoners.

Congress has granted compassionate release authority to the BOP, and in fact, it has been used in very limited circumstances in the past. However, only a small fraction of those people eligible for compassionate release are granted it. The OIG has noted that: “the existing BOP compassionate release program has been poorly managed and implemented inconsistently, likely resulting in eligible inmates not being considered for release and in terminally ill inmates dying before their requests were decided.”

ACUF’s Pat Nolan explained: “Holding elderly or extremely sick inmates in jail and prison comes at a high cost, not just in terms of state budgets, but also the toll it takes on families who want nothing more than to take care of those they love.”

In the past few years, the Justice Department’s Inspector General, the US Sentencing Commission, and relevant Congressional Committees have all taken BOP to task for its approach to compassionate release.

“I am hopeful that with the recent appointment of Mark Inch as the new agency director, BOP will change course and expand the use of compassionate release. We should be locking up people we are afraid of, not those sick and elderly who we may merely be mad at,” concluded ACUF’s Pat Nolan.

The American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform works to increase public safety and improve the criminal justice system by focusing law enforcement efforts on violent offenders, funding recidivism reduction programs, and advancing human dignity.

For more information on the Campaign for Compassionate Release, please go to: For more information on the ACUF Center for Criminal justice reform, please go to our website.

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CONTACT: David Safavian

Deputy Director

Center for Criminal Justice Reform