Everywhere and Nowhere: Compassionate Release in the States - FAMM

Grading the States: the State Compassionate Release Report Card Project

With “Grading the States: the State Compassionate Release Report Card Project,” FAMM issues a report card for every state compassionate release program in the nation. FAMM graded the programs on elements we consider essential to ensuring that the programs  benefit those who need them:  medically vulnerable, aging, and terminally ill incarcerated people whose continued imprisonment no longer serves the interests of justice.

The majority of states flunk compassionate release. But, we are here to help change that with a toolkit that stakeholders and lawmakers can use to fix failing programs.  We hope the report cards spur discussion, concern, and in failed states – outrage and action.

Report: Everywhere and Nowhere: Compassionate Release in the States

“Everywhere and Nowhere: Compassionate Release in the States,” is a comprehensive, state-by-state report on the early-release programs available to prisoners struggling with certain extraordinary circumstances, such as a terminal or age-related illness.

The report takes a deep dive into the regulations and requirements of these programs in each state, including the varying categories of release, eligibility criteria, and reporting. The analysis also reveals a troubling number of barriers faced by prisoners and their families when applying for early release.

The report is accompanied by a comparison chart, 21 recommendations for policymakers, and 51 individual state memos. FAMM updated the state memos in December 2021.

State Memos and Report Cards

The information contained in these memos is a starting point for individuals who want to know more about compassionate release policies in their state.  It is not legal advice.  Every statement about law and policy is supported by an endnote, which links to a citation of the statute or rule on which we relied.  We encourage readers to review these laws and rules.
As of December 2021, several states are in the process of passing or amending compassionate release legislation.  While we worked hard to present up-to-date information, it is important to remember that laws and regulations change, sometimes with little warning.  You can help us ensure that this information is accurate and current.  If you hear about a policy that has changed – or you notice something that you think is wrong, incomplete, or missing – please contact us.  We will be sure to track it down.


Learn more from our latest video, "Compassionate Release: Not a Left or Right Issue"