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They Can’t Wait: FAMM’s Response to COVID-19

Looking for information on the OLC Home Confinement Memo? Check out famm.org/keepthemhome

Need assistance? Check out our Federal Pro Se Compassionate Release Toolkit.

Throughout the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, FAMM has advocated for the most vulnerable people in prison.   FAMM urged local, state, and federal authorities to use their authority to release sick and elderly people as quickly as possible.

When it became clear in March of 2020 that the federal Bureau of Prisons was not going to promote compassionate release for vulnerable people in its facilities, FAMM launched an emergency COVID-19 Compassionate Release Clearinghouse.  Together with partner organizations the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, FAMM worked to screen more than 5, 500 requests for assistance and referred nearly 2,000 requests to counsel to determine if a motion for compassionate release should be filed. More than 1,000 motions were filed, resulting in at least 200 releases.

Now, FAMM is working to help the thousands of people released on CARES Act home confinement remain with their families, jobs, and communities.

Learn more about our #keepthemhome campaign and the OLC memo here.

If you or your loved one is currently on home confinement and seeking legal assistance filing a motion for compassionate release, click here.

Want to know more? Use the links below to jump to:

How You Can Help the Most Vulnerable

The Centers for Disease Control consider the most vulnerable to include people over 65 years old, and people with a condition that affects their lungs, heart, kidney, immune system or who have another serious chronic medical condition. There are more than 10,000 people in federal prison who are over 60 years old. Many are in poor health.

Here’s how you can help them:

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State Department of Corrections (DOC) Dashboards with COVID-19 data

The following states have online dashboards. We’ll update this list with more states as dashboards are developed. Each state name links to that state’s dashboard.

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Federal Resources

Below you’ll find memos, fact sheets, letters, and more in regards to federal policy for COVID-19.

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Resources by State/Territory

Below you’ll find memos, fact sheets, letters, and more in regards to state policies for COVID-19.

General State Updates:




New York:


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Your COVID Questions, Answered!

Watch our April 3, 2020 Facebook Live on Compassionate Release:

Watch a Q&A with FAMM’s president,
Kevin Ring:

Watch our Facebook Live with Matthew Charles and retired NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik

Say Her Name: Andrea Circle Bear

Applying for Compassionate Release

The first step in compassionate release is a request to the warden. (While the sentencing judge makes the final determination about compassion release, the law requires the process to start with the warden.)

The request for compassionate release can be made by the person in prison, or by someone else on their behalf. Here is how you can make a request on your loved one’s behalf:

  • Write a letter to the warden.
  • In this letter:
    • Include your loved one’s name and register number.
    • Tell the warden how you are related.
    • Tell the warden you are requesting compassionate release for your loved one.
    • Explain the grounds you are relying on. See pages 2 and 3 in this explainer for information about compassionate release criteria.
    • Explain why you think your loved one fits the CDC COVID-19 criteria (if s/he does).
    • Explain where your loved one will live and how they be supported and receive medical care if they are released.
    • Provide your full name and contact information.
  • Be sure to:
    • DATE the letter
    • Keep a copy of the letter for your records
    • Send the letter by certified mail so that you have a record of the date on which the letter is received by the warden.
    • You can also email a copy of the letter to the warden’s executive assistant whose email address is on the BOP website for the institution where your loved one is incarcerated.
  • Once the request for compassionate release is received by the warden, the 30-day waiting period begins.
  •  Once the 30 days have passed, the court is permitted to consider a compassionate release motion from your loved one.

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