S. 2471: GRACE Act (115th Congress)

Read the bill text: GRACE Act

Read FAMM’s position on the GRACE Act

Bill Status: The bill was introduced on February 28, 2018, in the U.S. Senate by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). THE BILL IS NOT A LAW. To become a law, the bill must be approved by the Judiciary committees, passed by both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, and signed into law by the President. Each year, many bills are introduced, but few become law. We do not know if or when this bill will become law.

Who it Helps: People sentenced in federal (not state) courts only.

Summary: FAMM supports the GRACE Act. If passed, the GRACE Act would create greater accountability and transparency in the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) use of compassionate release for federal prisoners who are elderly, ill, dying, or facing other “extraordinary and compelling circumstances.” For years, the BOP has regularly denied compassionate release to hundreds of federal prisoners, while more than 80 prisoners have died in the last four years while waiting the 4 to 6 months it takes for the BOP to review their requests. Families and prisoners alike often are not aware that compassionate release exists, and prisoners have no access to courts to appeal a BOP denial of their requests for compassionate release. Among other things, the bill, if passed, would

  • Require annual data collection and reporting on the BOP’s use of compassionate release;
  • Require the BOP to provide prisoners and prison staff with more visible and regular notice of the availability of compassionate release;
  • Permit prison staff and the prisoner’s family members or attorney to assist a prisoner in filing a compassionate release request;
  • Create an expedited process for reviewing compassionate release requests from terminally ill prisoners;
  • Require the BOP to give families the opportunity to visit an incarcerated loved one within seven days of the prisoner’s receipt of a diagnosis of a terminal illness;
  • Permit federal prisoners to appeal the BOP’s denial of a compassionate release request to a district court, once all administrative remedies within the BOP have been exhausted.

Resources

Increasing Public Safety Through Compassion

The Campaign for Compassionate Release

BOP Data on Use of Compassionate Release (Jan. 16, 2018)