Press Release

FAMM releases statement on new guidance memo on compassionate release waivers from Department of Justice

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FAMM releases statement on new guidance memo on compassionate release waivers from Department of Justice 


WASHINGTON – FAMM President Kevin Ring released the following statement after news broke that the Department of Justice would be issuing new guidance putting an end to a requirement in some jurisdictions that defendants who plead guilty waive the right to seek compassionate release.

“Last month, we alerted the Justice Department to this cruel practice and asked them to end it,” Ring said. “Attorney General Merrick Garland’s statement suggests they will. We are very grateful to the Department of Justice for moving so quickly. We look forward to the guidance memo and hope that it provides relief to those already forced to waive their right to seek compassionate release.”

FAMM and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers sent a letter to the Department of Justice when it became known that guilty pleas had been re-written to include waiving the right to future compassionate release petitions.

Compassionate release allows people convicted of federal crimes to be released from prison when they are suffering from terminal medical conditions, debilitating injuries, and other extraordinary and compelling circumstances. It is the only mechanism for this type of relief in the federal system.

For more than three decades, FAMM has united the voices of affected families, the formerly incarcerated, and a range of stakeholders and advocates to fight for a more fair and effective justice system. FAMM has led the fight to reform extreme mandatory sentencing laws and to promote rehabilitation and dignity for all people in prison, 94 percent of whom will return to our neighborhoods one day.


FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safely reduce incarceration, save taxpayer dollars, and keep families together. Founded in 1991, FAMM has secured bold sentencing and prison reform across the country while elevating the voices of directly impacted individuals and families.