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BOP COVID-19 UPDATE -- April 12, 2021

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Quick Facts:

Currently positive-testing inmates: 245 (up from 208)

Currently positive-testing staff: 1,207 (down from 1,254)

Recovered inmates: 46,745 (down from 46,792)

Recovered staff: 5,594 (up from 5,541)

Note: the noted day-to-day reduction in "recovered inmates" is counter-intuitive unless inmates previously deemed "recovered" relapsed.

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

Berlin FCI: 69

Oakdale II FCI: 16 (down from 46)

Petersburg - Medium FCI: 10 (up from 9)

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

Pollock USP: 84 (unchanged)

Coleman Medium FCI: 47 (unchanged)

Talladega FCI: 46 (unchanged)

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 126,061 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,8674in community-based facilities. Today's stats:

Completed tests: 109,577 (up from 109,305)

Positive tests: 46,207 (down(?) from 46,217)

Note: the supposedly "lower" total number of positive tests appears anomalous.

Case Note: Defendant, convicted of a double murder at age 18, granted compassionate relief after serving nearly 31 years of a life sentence....

In U.S. v. LUIS NOEL CRUZ, Defendant., No. 3:94-CR-112 (JCH), 2021 WL 1326851 (D. Conn. Apr. 9, 2021) (Hall, D.J.), the court granted compassionate release to defendant, who, as an 18-year-old Latin King was sentenced to life imprisonment for a double murder, explaining: "On May 14, 1994, when Cruz was 18 years old, he and another member of the Latin Kings, Alexis Antuna (“Antuna”), were ordered by gang leader Richard Morales to kill Arosmo “Ra-Ra” Diaz (“Diaz”), a fellow gang member whom Latin King leadership believed was an informant. See Diaz, 176 F.3d at 83-84; see also Cruz v. United States, Case No. 3:11-CV-00787 (JCH) (D. Conn.), Transcript of Second Evidentiary Hearing (“Cruz Tr.”) (Doc. No. 114) at 17:16-18:22. The order was delivered to Cruz by his Latin Kings “sponsor”. Cruz Tr. at 18:4-14. When Cruz told his sponsor that he did not want to kill anyone, the sponsor informed him that Cruz's earlier efforts to leave the Latin Kings had been taken as disrespect and that leadership was debating what to do with him. Id. at 18:23-19:4. When Cruz continued to insist that he did not want to kill anyone, his sponsor fired a gun into the air, which Cruz understood to mean that he would be killed if he failed to carry out Morales's order. Id. at 19:5-22.

Acting on Morales's order that same night, Cruz and Antuna got into a car being driven by an unsuspecting Diaz. Id. at 44:25-45:9. Diaz's friend, Tyler White (“White”), was with him in the passenger seat. Id. The four of them then drove to Jane Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with Cruz seated behind White and Antuna seated behind Diaz. Id. at 48:23-49:2. At some point after arriving at Jane Street, and still seated on the rear passenger side of the car, Cruz shot White twice in the back of the head, killing him instantly. Id. at 49:3-51:9; see also PSR 2018 ¶¶ 19-20, 22, 45. Cruz then exited the vehicle to help Antuna chase down the fleeing Diaz; Cruz held Diaz down as Antuna shot him multiple times in the head and torso, killing him. See Cruz Tr. 51:10-53:1; PSR 2018 ¶¶ 19-20, 23, 45; see also Diaz, 176 F.3d at 84. ...

The court finds the scientific evidence just discussed to be persuasive and well-founded and concludes that, because 18-year-olds are still developing in terms of maturity, impulse control, ability to resist peer pressure, and character, they are less than fully blameworthy for criminal conduct.

Against this backdrop, the length of Cruz's sentence is striking. In custody since he was 18 years old, Cruz, now 45, has spent roughly 60 percent of his entire life in prison....The court concludes that the tremendous length of Cruz's life sentence supports a reduction....

The court's view of Cruz's life post-sentencing can be summed up in a single word: transformed. A brief description of his life over the past 26 years, as he was incarcerated with no expectation of release, makes clear the basis for the court's view...

The court concludes that Cruz suffers from underlying medical conditions that increase his risk of severe illness if he contracts COVID-19. In line with the court's previous decisions, this supports a finding of extraordinary and compelling circumstances standing alone.....

Cruz's family circumstances further support a finding of compelling and extraordinary reasons to reduce his sentence. Cruz's mother, with whom he is “exceptionally close”, lives alone and is in deteriorating health. See Def.’s Mem. at 33, 35. She suffers from a terminal lung disease and has been given approximately six months to live. Affidavit of Dr. Patel (Mar. 17, 2021) (Doc. No. 2334). The more than 300 pages of medical records for Mrs. Cruz, submitted under seal, amply support Dr. Patel's Affidavit....

After considering the section 3553(a) factors, the court concludes that there are extraordinary and compelling reasons warranting a sentence reduction in this case. This court had previously found, after considering the section 3553(a) factors only, that the appropriate sentence for Cruz was 35 years. However, in light of all the bases supporting its finding of extraordinary and compelling reasons, especially the risk to Cruz posed by COVID-19 and his family circumstances, the court reduces his sentence on Counts 1, 2, 25, and 26 to a term of time served (approximately 31 years with good time credit), which is sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to achieve the purposes of sentencing and is responsive to the bases in the courts extraordinary and compelling finding. The court places Cruz on special supervised release for a term of 5 years, followed by a 5-year term of supervised release on Counts 1, 2, 25, and 26 and a 3-year term of supervised release on Counts 24 and 27, to run concurrently. A separate order will issue specifying the terms of the special, mandatory, and standard conditions to which Cruz will be subject on supervised release. In addition, Cruz is ordered to quarantine for 21 days. He may not leave his home for any reason except a medical emergency or at the direction of the U.S. Probation Office. Custody is transferred to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

For the foregoing reasons, Cruz's Motion for Compassionate Release Under the First Step Act (Doc. No. 2265) is granted. An order reflecting the court's decision will issue simultaneously."

Death Watch: The BOP has identified no new inmate fatalities, Inmate deaths remain at 230. Four of these inmates died while on home confinement. Staff fatalities remain at 4.

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