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August 17, 2021: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE and BOP COVID-19 BLOG




Quick Facts: Currently positive-testing inmates: 370 (down from 400) Currently positive-testing staff: 309 (up from 289) Recovered inmates: 42,894 (up from 42,848) Recovered staff: 7,126 (up from 7,113)


Institutions with the largest number of currently positive-testing inmates:

Coleman II USP: 55 (unchanged)

Sheridan FCI: 30 (unchanged)

Berlin FCI: 29

Institutions with the largest number of currently positive-testing staff:

Pollock USP: 29 (up from 26)

McCreary USP: 19 (up from 13)

Oakdale I FCI: 15 (unchanged)

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 131,011 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 14,355 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 119,752 (up from 119,606) Positive tests: 42,744 (up from 42,724)

Total Vaccine doses distributed: 210,906

Case Note: Defendant gets relief from ultimate trial penalty/924(c) penalty of 121 years, after serving eight...


In U.S. v. SESLEY WILLIAMS, 2021 WL 3604835 (D. Nev. Aug. 13, 2021) (Gordon, J.), the court granted compassionate release to defendant, who, after receiving the ultimate trial penalty dictated by multiple § 924(c) sentences, had served eight years into a 121 year sentence for being a getaway driver, where the triggerman plead guilty and received 100 yers less: "I sentenced defendant Sesley Williams to 121 years in prison for being the getaway driver in a string of armed robberies. The bulk (107 years) of her lengthy sentence is due to the mandatory minimum sentence for five gun charges under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), even though she did not brandish a weapon herself. After serving eight years in prison, Ms. Williams now moves for compassionate release under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). ECF No. 313. The Government opposes. Because Ms. Williams has demonstrated extraordinary and compelling reasons for compassionate release, I grant her motion. Ms. Williams and her co-defendant Anthony Jordan were convicted of multiple crimes related to a string of armed robberies. ECF No. 213. Marquee Munnerlyn went into the establishments to commit the robberies, Ms. Williams drove the getaway car, and Mr. Jordan served as the lookout. Five of Ms. Williams' counts of conviction were gun charges under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) because Mr. Munnerlyn brandished a gun during some of the robberies. In January 2016, I sentenced Ms. Williams to 168 months for the robbery charges and 1284 months, consecutive, for the gun counts under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Id. The sentence was so long because of the mandatory length and consecutive nature of sentencing under § 924(c). … . Had Ms. Williams been sentenced under this new version of § 924(c), her mandatory minimum sentence for the gun crimes would have been 35 years (seven years for each of five charges), instead of the 107 years she received for those crimes. … Ms. Williams was the getaway driver in several armed robberies. She did not enter any of the locations and she did not personally brandish a gun. Fortunately, no one was injured during any of the robberies. These are serious felonies warranting punishment, but not a virtual life sentence. … Ms. Williams is a 53-year-old single mother of four children with six grandchildren. The Presentence Investigation Report shows her prior criminal history consists of misdemeanors and one felony check scheme in 2003 for which she was sentenced to one day in custody. Although she has not been a model citizen, her criminal history is not significant. She has been in custody for over eight years. During that time, she has completed approximately 55 programs and classes, and she will soon obtain a college degree. … In the few years before committing these crimes, Ms. Williams had been subject to domestic violence by her then-boyfriend and partner-in-crime Mr. Munnerlyn, including serious beatings and sexual assaults on several occasions. See, e.g., ECF No. 321-1 (compiling police reports). This may have contributed to her participating in these robberies with Mr. Munnerlyn. … With regard to these robberies, Mr. Munnerlyn admitted to being the triggerman in approximately 20 of them. … He pleaded guilty to only three robberies under a plea agreement that called for 17 years in prison. … Mr. Munnerlyn was sentenced to 20 years in prison. … One of the factors I must consider is sentencing disparity. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(6). I may consider the sentence Ms. Williams and other similarly situated defendants would receive for these crimes today. The First Step Act eliminated the 25-year mandatory minimum for cases like this, so Ms. Williams would face a statutory minimum of 35 years, rather than the 107 years she received. Even more on point, the treatment Mr. Munnerlyn received from the Government and the sentence imposed on him are illuminating when compared to Ms. Williams' sentence. He was the admitted triggerman in approximately 20 robberies, pointing the gun at bank tellers and other victims. Nevertheless, the Government did not require him to plead guilty to even one § 924(c) gun crime, and it recommended a 17-year sentence (before he recanted his story). The disparity of treatment between Mr. Munnerlyn and Ms. Williams, especially considering their respective roles, is stark and strongly favors a significantly reduced sentence for Ms. Williams. It appears doubtful that a lengthy sentence like this has much of a deterrent effect on the public. According to the Justice Department, “[r]esearch shows clearly that the chance of being caught is a vastly more effective deterrent than even draconian punishment.” National Institute of Justice, Five Things About Deterrence (May 2016); see also Valerie Wright, Deterrence in Criminal Justice: Evaluating Certainty vs. Severity of Punishment, The Sentencing Project, at 1 (Nov. 2010) (“Research to date generally indicates that increases in the certainty of punishment, as opposed to the severity of punishment, are more likely to produce deterrent benefits.”). But see Length of Incarceration and Recidivism, United States Sentencing Commission, at 4 (April 2020) (“offenders incarcerated for more than 120 months were less likely to recidivate eight years after release”). On the other hand, a sentence of over 100 years in a case like this undercuts, rather than promotes, respect for the law. Ms. Williams' sentence is five times longer than the average sentence for murder and decades longer than the average sentences for kidnapping, manslaughter, and other serious crimes. McCoy, 981 F.3d at 285. A life sentence signifies that a defendant is entirely beyond rehabilitation, can contribute nothing to society, and is worthy only of warehousing. That is not the case for Ms. Williams, so that outcome in this case engenders derision for the criminal justice system. Ms. Williams has served over eight years in custody. An additional five years of home detention on supervised release will result in over 13 years without freedom. Given the sentence imposed on Mr. Munnerlyn, Ms. Williams' personal history and characteristics, and the other factors discussed above, that is sufficient but not greater than necessary to serve the interests of justice and comply with the purposes of sentencing. Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i), I will reduce Ms. Williams' custodial sentence to time served and I will modify the conditions of her supervised release to include 60 months of home confinement, as described below.”



Death Watch: The BOP has acknowledged the death of FCI Seagoville inmate, Gary Johnson, on August 11, 2021, bringing inmate fatalities to 242. Five of these inmates died while on home confinement. Staff fatalities remain at 4



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