Nation's oldest prisoners may benefit from new outlook toward compassionate-release program

A new attitude by the Federal Bureau of Prisons toward compassionate release is raising hopes of freedom for some aging inmates.

Philadelphia attorney Lawrence McMichael says 88-year-old Adelphia Corp. founder John Rigas (REE'-guhs) is among those considering it. Rigas is halfway through a 12-year prison term for bank and securities fraud convictions.

McMichael says his client should be a prime candidate because of age and health issues, including cancer and heart surgery.

The Department of Justice's inspector general recently called the 3-decade-old compassionate release program "poorly managed." It noted the Bureau of Prisons usually recommends only about two dozen prisoners a year to be released because of terminal illness. The bureau has indicated it's ready to follow some of the inspector general's suggestions.