Elderly Offender Home Detention / First Step Act / Compassionate Release
BOP issued a revised Compassionate Release program statement in January 2019 regarding elderly offender home confinement and recent considerations of the First Step Act. Programs are expanding for both elderly and terminally ill inmates better suited for home confinement – either lower risk level/lower needs – or terminal illness and Compassionate Release Sentence Reduction. Statutory language of these new considerations will also be added to BOP’s home confinement program statement.
First Step Act (FSA) reauthorized an earlier pilot program from 2009/2010 with the Second Chance Act of 2007. It was utilized only at one institution however, poorly administered and then abandoned. Initial criteria was problematic as eligibility for elderly offenders to home confinement was for those 65 or older who served a minimum of 10 years and 75% of their sentence. This eliminated most from qualifying. FSA re-establishes the ‘Elderly Offender Home Detention’ program (EOHD); to be at all BOP facilities, extend to offenders 60 or older, with 66.67% of their sentence complete and no longer held to a 10-year minimum already served. FSA implies 66.67% of the entire sentence prior to any good time, earned or RDAP credit applied. Neither ‘violent’ nor sex offense convictions (or repeat offenders) will be considered for program eligibility. Risk assessment tools are still being ‘designed’ (late July 2019 anticipated completion). BOP will have much leeway, but expanded home confinement programs save budget/staff resource while also aiding inmates, their families and the public interest. Judicial review will also carry more weight in these circumstances. Under 18 USC 3625 most BOP programs are limited in actions brought by inmates [Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and 5 USC 706]. With EOHD falling under a different section of Title 34, it’s subject to challenge and Court redress should the BOP be arbitrary in its application.