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BOP COVID-19 UPDATE -- March 5, 2021




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Quick Facts:

Currently positive-testing inmates: 852 (up from 848)

Currently positive-testing staff: 1,617 (up from 1,615)

Recovered inmates: 46,926 (up from 46,876)

Recovered staff: 4,909 (up from 4,907)


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

Florence High USP: 99 (down from 120)

Schuykill FCI: 76

Fort Dix FCI: 42 (up from 41)

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

Pollock USP: 83 (unchanged)

Tucson USP: 69 (unchanged)

Talladega FCI: 46 (unchanged)


System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 124,846 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,778 in community-based facilities. Today's stats:


Completed tests: 106,293 (up from 105,991)

Positive tests: 46,950 (up from 46,892)


Case Note: Although release not appropriate, reduction of sentence granted.


It's well to keep in mind that although we reference the phrase "compassionate release," courts have discretion to reduce a sentence as an alternative to releasing the defendant. In U.S. v. ALBERTO PELLOT, Defendant., No. 19 CR 169 (VM), 2021 WL 807242 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 3, 2021) (Marrero, J.) the court found that conditions of confinement during COVID and the continued risks associated therewith, even after infection, warranted a reduction, but not release: "On March 5, 2020, defendant Alberto Pellot (“Pellot”) was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(B). Pellot was sentenced to a term of sixty months, the mandatory minimum prescribed by statute. (See Dkt. No. 149.) After multiple adjournments of Pellot's surrender date, he began serving his sentence at F.C.I. Fort Dix, where he is currently incarcerated, on October 12, 2020. … Pellot argues that his motion for compassionate release should be granted because he is fifty-four years old; has medical conditions including obesity, degenerative joint disease, and a heart condition called right bundle branch block (“RBBB”); and has been taking steps to rehabilitate himself, such as drug treatment and vocational training, both before and after his arrest. (See Motion at 4-8.) The Court is persuaded that these circumstances, taken together, are sufficiently extraordinary and compelling to warrant a sentence reduction. As Pellot notes, he suffers from many health conditions that place him at a higher risk of suffering from severe illness from COVID-19. … The Court also considers Pellot's rehabilitative efforts, in conjunction with his age and health, to contribute to the extraordinary and compelling circumstances supporting a sentence reduction. …. While Pellot has recently recovered from COVID-19, Pellot's infection and subsequent recovery does not undermine the Court's finding of extraordinary and compelling circumstances. The Court recognizes that as of October 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that cases of reinfection are “rare.” Reinfection, Ctrs. for Disease Control & Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/reinfection.html (last updated Oct. 27, 2020). But other sources suggest that reinfections are “on the rise.” Jop de Vrieze, More People Are Getting COVID-19 Twice, Suggesting Immunity Wanes Quickly in Some, Science (Nov. 18, 2020), https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/11/more-people-are-getting-covid-19-twice-suggesting-immunity-wanes-quickly-some. Moreover, there have recently been demonstrated instances of reinfections within prison facilities. See Angie Jackson, State Reviewing Possible COVID-19 Reinfections After 115 Prisoners Test Positive Twice, Detroit Free Press (Dec. 12, 2020), https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2020/12/12/covid-coronavirus-reinfection-michigan-prisoners/3876185001/; see also Noah Goldberg, Prisoners at Risk of Catching COVID-19 a Second Time Behind Bars Asking to Be Released, N.Y. Daily News (Jan. 10, 2021), https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-covid-second-cases-among-prisoners-20210111-tedyjcpwznajzh3xa4hbgjiiqi-story.html. This information, along with other risk-increasing factors like Pellot's age and health conditions, persuades the Court that “it is conceivable that [Pellot] could be re-infected and experience a severe case of COVID-19.” United States v. Secchiaroli, No. 17 CR 179, 2021 WL 614632 (W.D.N.Y. Feb. 17, 2021).After considering the Section 3553(a) factors, the Court concludes that a transfer to home confinement would not sufficiently “reflect the seriousness of,” or “provide just punishment for,” Pellot's conduct, see 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(A), as Pellot has served only a few months of his term of imprisonment thus far. Nevertheless, the Court is persuaded that a more modest reduction to a term of thirty-six months’ imprisonment, followed by four years’ supervised release, is warranted by the extraordinary and compelling circumstances and appropriate in light of the Section 3553(a) factors. The Court comes to this conclusion after considering “the nature and circumstances of the offense,” which was a nonviolent drug offense, and “the history and characteristics of the defendant,” namely, Pellot's history with substance abuse, the decades-long absence of any criminal conduct on his record, the traumatic event triggering his relapse, and Pellot's pre- and post-arrest rehabilitative efforts. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(1). The Court has also taken into account the other goals of sentencing and finds that a sentence reduction to thirty-six months’ imprisonment is sufficient to comply with the purposes set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(A), particularly as “the pandemic has rendered [Pellot's] sentence far harsher and more punitive than the Court had anticipated at sentencing.” See Rodriguez, 2020 WL 5810161, at *8.”)



Death Watch: The BOP reports the death of Marcelo Ramos-Ortiz, 59, FCI Oakdale II, bringing the inmate death toll to 225. Four of these inmates died while on home confinement. Staff fatalities remain at 4.

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