A Pa. state prisoner has Gov. Josh Shapiro’s support in compassionate release case

Spotlight PA, 05/13/24: “Gov. Josh Shapiro has thrown the weight of the governor’s office behind an incarcerated man’s petition for medical release from Pennsylvania state prison, likely the first time a sitting governor has explicitly endorsed this kind of plea by someone in state custody.

On May 2, attorneys for Ezra Bozeman, one of Pennsylvania’s oldest and longest-serving prisoners, filed a petition asking an Allegheny County judge to grant his transfer under Pennsylvania’s ‘compassionate release’ law, a statute that purports to provide the sick and dying with a way to leave prison to receive care.

The law is one of the only methods available to people like Bozeman, who have critical medical needs the prison system cannot provide. But petitions like Bozeman’s are rare.

As Spotlight PA has previously reported, the law is deeply flawed and written so narrowly that few people qualify.

As a result, the state has received very few petitions since the legislature established the process in 2009. In many cases, petitioners have died before their petitions were ever heard by a judge. As of November 2023, only about 48 have been successful in 14 years.

Rarer still is a line on page seven of Bozeman’s petition: ‘Based on the specific circumstances outlined in this petition, Governor Josh Shapiro supports the relief requested.’

‘I don’t think it’s ever been done before,’ said Rupalee Rashatwar. Rashatwar and other attorneys with the Abolitionist Law Center are representing Bozeman alongside the Amistad Law Project; both are activist firms that have specialized in compassionate release petitions in recent years.”

Read the full article here.