Early Release From Prison Due To The Coronavirus

“Hey, I have been following your work for a while. We need your advice. My dad is at Yankton Federal Prison Camp. He is serving 48 months for healthcare fraud. We talked to a white collar defense lawyer who said he can get our dad out of federal prison. He wants $10K. What do you think? This coronavirus is nuts inside and we really want our dad home. We can afford it but want your thoughts,” he said.

“Is your dad sick?”, I asked.

“No, he actually feels pretty good. He took your advice and he has lost like 50 pounds in federal prison.”

“Does your dad have a documented health condition that puts him at higher risk to get Coronavirus? If so, can you specify the health issues?” I asked him.

“No, he is in really good shape and he has no health issues. He was overweight before going to federal prison, but he is in great shape now. He does marathons like you and Santos (Michael Santos).”

“For clarity, Michael did marathons. I won’t run more than a half! As you know, I am not a lawyer. Therefore I am not going to give you legal advice. I do have one more question. Did the lawyer who wanted $10K ask you any of the questions I just asked you?

“Nope. He just said he would file it with court and he thinks we have good chance for early release since people in prison will get sick over the coronavirus. He said the Bureau of Prisons won’t want lawsuits from prisoners who get sick, so they will let people out. We just need to file motion or something like that,” he said.

For those of you reading this, be careful. As I wrote in a blog yesterday, the Bureau of Prisons will seek to defend their treatment of prisoners. They wont randomly be letting people out of prison nor will Federal Judges, without any real evidence that a prisoner must be released due to their illness. Frankly, even with real evidence they will not be releasing many prisoners early–we must accept that they think they can treat prisoners properly.

Perhaps this lawyer thought they could prevail. Perhaps his time is so valuable that a fee of $10K is warranted. Perhaps, I do not know all of the details. What I do know is what it will be very difficult to get released from state or federal prison without a documented history of illness and health issues.

Below is an order that was filed in a state court. The criminal order establishes procedures for filing motions for release from custody due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Use this as a guide to better understand what is required to get early release from federal prison due to the coronavirus. Do not fall for sales lines or gimmicks. If you are in need of an ethical, quality lawyer we can happily make a referral.

Rely on data and logic to guide your decisions. Take the time to understand all of the stakeholders in the system and their motivations.

If you need guidance or have questions call me at 818-424-2220 or schedule a call here.


Justin Paperny

P.S. Below is the criminal standing order from March 22, 2020.



In response to the overwhelming number of completed and anticipated filings  requesting the immediate release of defendants from custody due to the health threat posed by the COVID19 Pandemic, and in light of the reduced operations of the court, the Criminal Division issues the following standing order in the best interest of the administration of justice. Effective immediately any motion seeking relief from detention based upon the COVID-19 Pandemic must comply with all the following requirements:

1. The motion must be titled “Motion for Release from Detention Based on the COVID-19 Pandemic” and must be filed with the AVR judge , as well as the assigned calendar judge;
2. Immediately below the title and before the text of the motion itself, the motion must contain answers to each of the following questions, labeled with the letter that corresponds with the question below:
a. Does the defendant have a documented health condition that puts them especially at risk with respect to COVID-19? If so, specify the health condition and provide details about how the health condition is documented;
b.Is the defendant 60 years old or older? If so, specify the defendant’s age.
c. Is the defendant being detained pretrial or post-conviction?
d. Is the defendant charged only with non-assaultive misdemeanors? If so,specify all the charges;
e. Is the defendant charged only with felonies that are not crimes of violence? If so, specify all the charges;
f. Is the defendant being detained post-conviction and pending sentencing?
If so, specify the earliest date the defendant could be released in compliance with the voluntary sentencing guidelines and mandatory
minimum sentencing requirements; and
g. What is the opposing party’s position on your motion?

Motions for release based on the COVID-19 Pandemic filed after issuance of this order that are not in strict compliance with the requirements of this order will be denied by a docket entry that reads
“Denied without prejudice to refiling based on Criminal
Division Standing Order of March 22, 2020″