In response to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, FAMM is encouraging all people in federal prison who are most vulnerable to immediately apply for early release. FAMM is also encouraging state and local governments to use their authority to release sick and elderly people as quickly as possible.
In our efforts to identify people in prison who might need our assistance in applying for compassionate release at this crucial time, we sent this email and a questionnaire to the federal prisoners we are in touch with via Corrlinks.
NOTE: If you are a loved one of someone who was sentenced in DC Superior Court, please fill out this questionnaire.
- How You Can Help The Most Vulnerable
- State Department of Corrections (DOC) Dashboards with COVID-19 data
- Federal Resources
- Resources by State/Territory
- Videos from FAMM Staff Explaining More About Our Efforts
- More Information about Applying for Compassionate Release
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:
- Contact Congress and tell them to support the COVID-19 Safer Detention Act
- If you have a loved one who is currently incarcerated in a federal prison, contact them and encourage them to apply for compassionate release.
- Make a donation to FAMM’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund
- Read and share our press release about this unprecedented move for wide-range compassionate release.
- Sign our petition (with Color of Change and Worth Rises) to demand that prison telecom vendors provide free communication in this time of crisis.
- Sign our petition with Action Network: Tell Congress to ensure care and prevention measures are accessible to all people who are incarcerated.
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.
- Spreadsheet with Full List of States with Dashboards (updated frequently)
- North Carolina
Below you’ll find memos, fact sheets, letters, and more in regards to federal policy for COVID-19.
- Information for Residents of Correctional Facilities: Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine
- Attorney General Barr’s March 26, 2020 Memo on Home Confinement Priorities
- CARES Act: What Does the COVID-19 Relief Bill Do to Protect Incarcerated People?
- The Bureau of Prisons has a COVID-19 update page on its website. You can visit it to get current public information, resources, and updates, including the number and location of staff and prisoners who have tested positive for the virus.
- Understanding the Difference Between Home Confinement, Compassionate Release, and Clemency in the Federal Prison System
- Attorney General Barr’s April 3, 2020 Memo on Expanding and Maximizing Home Confinement
- Letter From Matthew Charles and Bernie Kerik to President Trump in support of compassionate release
- Letter (4.21.2020) to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Michael Carvajal in response to the BOP’s decision to rescind home confinement dates for hundreds of people.
- 4.23.2020 Memo from the Bureau of Prisons re: Home Confinement
- Summary: HEROES Act
- Summary: Emergency GRACE Act
- Summary: COVID-19 Safer Detention Act
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:
- A list of what every state executive (or DOC) has done in response to COVID.
- Running tally of how states are responding to COVID, including which states are suspending work release programs
- Petition sent to Gov. Doug Ducey requesting he grant clemency to vulnerable people in Arizona prisons.
- Learn more about FAMM’s partner, The S.T.A.R.T. Project, on Facebook.
- Letter to the Arizona Department of Corrections asking for a COVID19 tracking dashboard
- Letter to Gov. Ducey urging him to grant clemency and release people.
- Letter to the Arizona Sherrifs Association asking sheriffs to help prevent COVID outbreaks in county jails.
- Op-Ed from Lillian Coppess calling for clemency from Gov. Ducey.
- Letter From FAMM’s Vice President of Policy Molly Gill to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry Director David Shinn regarding testing in Arizona’s prisons
- Letter asking the Department of Health for investigations of prisons and their handling of COVID-19.
- Letter from FAMM and The START Project to the Arizona DOC asking it to rescind a recent policy change that limits prisoner and staff access to the media.
District of Columbia:
- Contact your legislators and demand a special legislative session to address COVID-19 and people in prison.
- Florida COVID-19 FAQ
- Learn more about FAMM’s partner Florida Cares on Facebook.
- Letter requesting that the Florida Department of Corrections create a dashboard to give daily updates on the impact of COVID-19 in Florida’s prisons
- Prison-Related COVID-19 Concerns Report Form (Florida Cares)
- FAMM’s letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis urging support for the targeted release of vulnerable and low-risk people from Florida’s prisons as part of the state’s comprehensive response to COVID-19.
- FAMM’s letter to Gov. DeSantis urging a special session to address prison issues in the wake of COVID-19.
- Watch: 4.16.2020 Facebook Live on Florida Prisons and COVID-19
- Letter From FAMM’s Florida State Director Greg Newburn to Florida Dept. of Corrections Sec. Mark Inch regarding testing in Florida’s prisons
- 4.29.2020 Facebook Live Session on Updates for Florida
- FAMM’s letter to FDC Secretary Inch urging FDC to begin furloughing prisoners.
- Frequently Asked Questions about Furloughs in Florida
- Letter from FAMM and Mississippi Dreams Prison Advocacy asking Gov. Tate Reeves to release people using his clemency power, and asking the Department of Corrections (DOC) to set up an informational dashboard on its website. (UPDATE: as of April 15, 2020, FAMM has received no response. See our follow-up letter below)
- Follow-up letter to Gov. Reeves and DOC asking for a COVID-19 data dashboard.
- Letter calling for the release of pregnant women in N.C. prisons and jails
- Letter to the Department of Public Safety requesting an information database for updated regarding COVID-19 (UPDATE: The Department of Public Safety has agreed to look into creating this database. Read the NCDPS response to FAMM here)
- FAMM’s letter to North Carolina House Select Committee on COVID-19 asking to safely and quickly remove vulnerable populations from prisons and jails, and protect the safety and health of people who remain in custody.
- FAMM’s letter urging Gov. Roy Cooper to support the targeted, careful release of certain vulnerable people from North Carolina’s state prisons.
- FAMM’s letter urging Department of Public Safety to use its legal authority to release vulnerable people.
- Department of Public Safety’s April 13, 2020 announcement that it’ll be considering the early release of nearly 500 people into community supervision. You can read this press release to learn who’s eligible for early release.
- Letter from FAMM’s Vice President of Policy Molly Gill to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks regarding testing in North Carolina’s prisons
- Letter to Gov. Tom Wolf urging him to use his reprieve power to release vulnerable people from state prisons. UPDATE: As of April 10, 2020, Gov. Wolf has ordered the Department of Corrections to establish temporary reprieve of sentences of incarceration!
- FAMM’s position statement to the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee
- Read: FAMM urges Gov. Wolf and Sec. Wetzel to increase COVID-19 testing in Pennsylvania’s prisons and expand release after infections skyrocket at SCI Huntingdon.
- Urge Gov. Wolf to Expand Testing and Release of Vulnerable Incarcerated People during the COVID-19 Crisis
- Watch: Ending Mass Incarceration in Pennsylvania: Taking Action during COVID-19 and Beyond Virtual Town Hall
- Letter to Gov. Wolf and Pa. General Assembly urging them to revise release mechanisms for people in prison due to COVID-19
Your COVID Questions, Answered!
Watch our April 3, 2020 Facebook Live on Compassionate Release:
Watch a Q&A with FAMM’s president,
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.
Some of you have told us that some prisons are refusing to accept prisoners’ requests for compassionate release. Others of you have explained that your loved ones on lockdown are unable to make requests.
FAMM is in touch with the Bureau of Prisons and we have expressed our concerns about these reports. We have received assurances that this will be addressed. We will let you know as soon as we hear from the BOP about if and how these barriers will be removed.
In the meantime, did you know that you can apply for compassionate release on behalf of your loved one?
If your loved one falls within the CDC COVID-19 criteria (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.), but is unable to make a request on their own, here is how you can make a request on their 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.
- Once the request for compassionate release is received by the warden, the warden has 30 days to decide whether to deny the request or forward it to the Central Office for a final decision whether or not to file a motion for the person’s release.
- Sending your letter officially will start the 30-day clock running. (This is one reason why it’s important to send your letter via certified mail.)
- Fill out this questionnaire, letting us know the application to the warden has been made by you.