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August 31, 2022: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE and BOP COVID-19 BLOG


Fast Facts (Full BOP stats can be found here)


Confirmed active cases at 115 BOP facilities and 15 RRCs

Currently positive-testing inmates: 526 (up from 490) Currently positive-testing staff: 659 (up from 640) Recovered inmates currently in the BOP: 49,265 (down from 49,305) Recovered staff: 13,647 (up from 13,630)


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

Schuylkill FCI: 100 (up from 53)

Canaan USP: 41 (up from 39)

Sheridan FCI: 25 (up from 23)

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

Central Office HQ: 59 (up from 58)

Rochester FMC: 29

Carswell FMC: 28 (unchanged)

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 141,747 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,812 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 128,722 (up from 128,721) Positive tests: 55,370 (down from 55,369)


Total vaccine doses administered: 328,589 (up from 328,528)


Case Note: Quadruple lifer's sentence reduced to 360 months based on several factors that together are deemed extraordinary and compelling...


In U.S. v. LESLIE MORRIS, 2022 WL 3703201 (D. Conn. Aug. 26, 2022) (Bolden, J.), court reduces sentence of quadruple lifer, convicted of, inter alia, murder, to 360-months citing, inter alia, the hardships of his youth, rehabilitation, and the reduction of his more culpable co-defendant's sentence, explaining: "Currently, Mr. Morris is serving four concurrent life sentences of imprisonment[.] … On April 24, 2003, after a seven-week trial in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut before the Honorable Peter C. Dorsey, a jury convicted Mr. Morris of violating 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), Racketeering in Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) (Count One); 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d), RICO Conspiracy (Count Two); 18 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846, Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Narcotics (Count Five); 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1), Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering (Count Thirteen); 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1) and (2), Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering Act (“VICAR”): Murder of Kenneth Porter (Count Fourteen); and 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) and (2), Use of Firearm in Relation to Murder of Kenneth Porter (Count Fifteen). … Mr. Morris argues that extraordinary and compelling reasons exist for his release. Specifically, he claims that his age at the time of the offense, his “unusually” long sentence, his rehabilitation, his vulnerability to COVID-19, the harsh conditions of confinement created by the pandemic, and his immediate family members’ serious medical conditions constitute extraordinary and compelling reasons for release. … Mr. Morris acknowledges that he “earned his last two serious tickets—assault with serious injury and possessing a dangerous weapon—while incarcerated at USP Hazelton in 2009 and 2008, respectively.” Id. at 47 He argues that the Court should consider these two instances “in context,” meaning in light of “USP Hazelton [being] among the most violent federal prisons in the country” and being “overcrowded for years, a factor that is correlated with increased violence.” Id. at 48. … With respect to his age at the time of the offense, Mr. Morris notes that he “experienced persistent poverty and housing instability throughout his childhood,” which “can have lasting impacts on brain development that affect a person's decision-making processes long term,” id. at 9–10; that he “was frequently unsupervised as a young child,” which affects “brain development[;] the ability to make decisions as carefully as one's peers[;] the ability to regulate physiology, behavior, and emotion[;] and the trajectory toward more problematic outcomes,” id. at 13 (internal citation and quotation marks omitted); that he attended “under-resourced schools [that] failed to address his academic struggles,” id. at 14; that he was “a frequent target of bullying throughout his childhood and adolescence,” id. at 16; that he “witnessed relentless violence, both in his community generally and within close circles of friends and family,” id. at 19; that “[l]acking alternative role models, [he] followed in the footsteps of the men who looked out for him (and whom he admired) and began selling drugs at a young age,” id. at 23; that he became a father at a young age and, “[o]verwhelmed by the immense financial responsibility of caring for a young family, ... began selling drugs more regularly,” id. at 25–26; and that “[a]fter he began selling at P.T. Barnum, Mr. Morris was exposed to a new level of violence and felt anxious to prove himself, in order to protect his reputation and his earnings,” id. at 26. At P.T. Barnum, Mr. Morris sold drugs and murdered Kenneth Porter after Mr. Porter allegedly “snatched” money that Mr. Morris had rightly won in a game of dice. Id. at 27 (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). According to Mr. Morris, he was pressured by Willie Nunley, “a lieutenant in the drug-selling business at P.T. Barnum and thus [someone in] a position of authority over Mr. Morris,” to “get the money back from [Mr.] Porter” and that if he did not “do [Mr. Porter], [Mr. Nunley would] do [Mr. Morris].” Id. at 27–28. “After attempting to resolve the dispute with words, Mr. Morris made the deeply regrettable decision to listen to Mr. Nunley and the other peers pressuring him to respond to this humiliation with violence, rather than to those encouraging him to walk away.” … With regard to the length of his sentence, Mr. Morris notes that “[a]lthough [he] received four life sentences, his convictions involved only one death,” and that “[t]hree of the life sentences were solely related to drug trafficking and his role in the conspiracy; the fourth was for the murder of Kenneth Porter.” … As to his alleged record of rehabilitation, Mr. Morris claims that his “acceptance of responsibility and emphatic declaration of remorse is evidence of his rehabilitation after over 25 years ... in prison.” Id. at 35. He also notes having “participated in at least 72 classes and programs” while in prison, which he says is “especially notable given that he was not required to participate in any of them and had no ‘tangible incentive other than self-improvement, given that his life sentence meant he could neither earn any good time nor receive any other sentence reduction benefit.’ ” … Overall, the Court agrees. The Court finds that Mr. Morris's age when the crime was committed and his rehabilitation present extraordinary and compelling reasons warranting a sentence reduction. The applicable characteristics of late adolescence that Mr. Morris flags for the Court—hot cognition, poor impulse control, and susceptibility to peer pressure—have been recognized in this Circuit. … Though, as the Government notes, Cruz entailed a “remarkable” disciplinary record, Judge Hall in that case did note that it “is not uncommon for an inmate to have a good record with the BOP, but there are almost always a few violations along the way.” Cruz, 2021 WL 1326851, at *8. And as Mr. Morris notes, a disciplinary record while in prison is not a strict bar to obtaining relief under the First Step Act. Mr. Morris's age, along with the rehabilitation he has demonstrated, as well as the Court's consideration of the § 3553(a) factors, merit a sentence reduction. … Mr. Morris notes that “[t]he over-306-month sentence [he] has served already exceeds the average sentence for murder.” Id. at 98. Moreover, Mr. Morris says, his “impulsive shooting of Mr. Porter, which the trial record establishes he did under pressure from Willie Nunley and others, is a far cry from the ‘act of torture and violence designed to send a dangerous message that cooperation with law enforcement would be brutally punished.’ ” … Comparing his sentence to others who were also dealing drugs in P.T. Barnum, Mr. Morris notes that he, “a lowly ‘pack-boy,’ remains incarcerated while nearly all of his co-defendants have received sentence reductions.” Id. at 99. Specifically, he notes that Luke Jones, whose “case involved multiple murders,” had his sentence “reduced to 450 months, yet Mr. Morris is still serving a life sentence.” … As to Luke Jones, the Government concedes that it has previously concluded that he was the “worst of the lot” and therefore it “simply urges the Court to consider the differences between Morris and Jones, which the Government perceives as meaningful.” Id. at 36. Specifically, Luke Jones had no record of violence in prison, demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation while in custody, and does not have a single disciplinary ticket while in prison. Id. In reply, Mr. Morris argues that a life sentence is highly unusual, even though VICAR murder continues to carry a mandatory minimum of life. Reply at 1–3. In support, Mr. Morris notes that only 54 life sentences were issued in the last thirty years; the national average length of a sentence for murder over the past decade is approximately 22 years; and between 2010 and 2015, only .1% of youthful offenders received a life sentence. … As to sentencing disparities, Mr. Morris further notes that, “the youngest defendant in the case known as 99[-]CR[-]264, and an individual only tangentially connected to the conspiracy in time and scope, is now serving a longer sentence than nearly all of his co-defendants, many of whom were also responsible not only for a death but for multiple deaths.” … On balance—though the Government raises legitimate concerns—the Court agrees. … No sentence – even the one originally given – can make the family of Kenneth Porter whole for their loss. And, in addition to their continuing pain, “[t]he text of the First Step Act, read in conjunction with other sentencing statutes, requires the Court to consider all relevant facts, including developments since the original sentence.” … As the Government has acknowledged, Luke Jones, the leader of the drug distribution ring, has been considered the “worst of the lot,” Jones, 2020 WL 2791862, at *3 (outlining Judge Nevas's recognition at sentencing of Mr. Luke Jones's role in the ring and the effect that his crimes had on the Bridgeport community), but his four life sentences were reduced to a term of years, specifically 450 months, id. at *1–2. Given Mr. Morris's age at the time of his crimes, his subsequent growth, the Court's previous reductions of sentences of others in the same related conspiracy, the precedent within the Circuit for reducing life sentences for serious crimes, see, e.g., Rodriguez, 492 F. Supp. 2d at 308 (reducing a life sentence for participation in a “brutal murder” to a term of years), as well as Mr. Morris's subordinate role in the conspiracy to Luke Jones, Mr. Morris's sentence should be reduced to a term of years less than 450 months. In light of all of the factors discussed above, including but not limited to the seriousness of his crime, Mr. Morris's four concurrent life sentences shall be reduced to a sentence of 360 months, a sentence consistent with the broad remedial purpose of the First Step Act.”


Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announces BOP COVID-related deaths here.) The BOP has identified no new COVID-related fatalities. The total number COVID-related inmate deaths remains at 306. Eleven of the inmates died while on home confinement. Staff deaths remain at 7.

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