I just came across a notable ruling from last week by a Fourth Circuit panel in US v. Malone, No. 21-6242 (4th Cir. Jan. 5, 2023) (available here). In this case, the circuit court panel concludes that “the district court abused its discretion by failing to properly assess the following factors which would warrant Malone’s compassionate release: his ailing health, advanced age, and relevant 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors.” Here is one key paragraph from the opinion (emphasis in the original):
[W]e conclude that the district court abused its discretion by failing to recognize that the relevant § 3553(a) factors clearly favor release. Having a Category I criminal history, Malone acknowledged the seriousness of his offense in prior motions to the court and has now served over fourteen years of his sentence. While in prison, he participated in multiple classes and was also placed in a low-level prison camp. His new extraordinary and compelling health-related circumstances have condemned him to a life filled with limitations. Due to these circumstances, his potential for recidivism is low to none and he does not pose a threat to others or the community at large. To affirm the district court’s denial would not only be a great disservice to Malone, but to any defendant with failing health seeking autonomy in their twilight. There is a reason this is called compassionate release, after all.