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BOP COVID-19 UPDATE -- May 12, 2021

Quick Facts:

Currently positive-testing inmates: 100 (down from 105)

Currently positive-testing staff: 175 (up from 172)

Recovered inmates: 46,043 (down from 46,116)

Recovered staff: 6,759 (up from 6,756)

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

Otisville FCI: 36 (unchanged)

Oklahoma City FTC: 5 (unchanged)

Victorville USP: 5 (unchanged)

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

Petersburg Low FCI: 14 (unchanged)

Pekin FCI: 8 (up from 7)

Central Office Headquarters: 7 (unchanged)

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 128,402 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,597 in community-based facilities. Today's stats:

Completed tests: 113,071 (up from 113,003)

Positive tests: 45,446 (down from 45,520)

Case Note: Granting compassionate release to mandatory lifer, 18 at the time of offense....

In U.S. v. Ramsay, 2021 WL 1877963 (S.D.N.Y. May 11, 2021) (Rakoff, J.), Judge Rakoff, declaring himself unbound from the mandatory minimum sentence previously imposed on the defendant, considers the defendant's youth at the time of the offense and grants compassionate release, explaining: "Ramsay was convicted of murder in aid of racketeering, and this Court imposed the then-mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. This case presents an important question. Just last month, eight Justices on the Supreme Court agreed that “youth matters in sentencing.”Jones v. Mississippi, No. 18-1259, slip op. at 8 (U.S. Apr. 22, 2021) ;see id.(Sotomayor, J., dissenting), slip op. at 9. In the instant case, however, the then-mandatory sentencing regime compelled the Court to sentence Ramsay to life imprisonment, without considering his youth. But Congress now permits courts to grant sentence reductions in “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances. Can an offender's youth, combined with society's evolving understanding of the adolescent brain, constitute such a circumstance? The Court finds that it can. For that reason, in combination with other reasons unique to Ramsay set forth below, the Court grants Ramsay's motion for a sentence reduction and reduces his sentence from life imprisonment to a term of 360 months’ imprisonment, that is, 30 years. … Ramsay was born in Jamaica. His twin brother died in infancy, a death his family spoke of for years. Throughout his childhood, Ramsay was shunted from home to home with little youthful guidance. … According to Ramsay, the housekeeper molested Ramsay repeatedly for about a year. Ramsay further alleges that during his childhood, various caregivers subjected him to corporal punishment that sometimes turned into severe physical abuse. … However, around that time there occurred a spate of especially severe, politically motivated violence in the Dunkirk neighborhood of Kingston, Jamaican, where they lived. Sights of dead bodies and sounds of gunshots were commonplace. … Ramsay began hanging out with a group of Jamaican men who lived a few blocks from his home. They made him feel safe and socially accepted, but they also asked him to sell drugs. … When this Court pronounced sentence in January 1998, the United States Sentencing Guidelines were mandatory and required a sentence of life imprisonment. This Court recognized that the crime was heinous and that a substantial sentence of imprisonment was warranted. Even so, the Court expressed doubts about the mandatory life sentence. …T hompson, Roper, Graham, and Miller each relied on factors distinguishing adults from adolescents. Those factors can be usefully grouped into four traits: youthful offenders’ immaturity, susceptibility, salvageability, and dependence. … For all these reasons, to impose a sentence that is “sufficient, but not greater than necessary,” sentencing courts should generally impose lesser sentences on adolescent offenders than on similarly situated adult offenders. And this also means that courts cannot simply treat anyone over 18 as an “adult” for sentencing purposes but must inquire whether the human being they are about to sentence is still in many respects an adolescent. … In sum, Ramsay's wanton choice to fire into a crowd cries out for heightened punishment, but that cry is muted somewhat by an understanding of the developing brain. “From a moral standpoint it would be misguided to equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult.” Roper, 543 U.S. at 570. … The Government is, of course, correct that 18 years of abuse and neglect do not justify Ramsay's crime. Nevertheless, Ramsay's upbringing, like his youth more generally, calls into grave doubt a life sentence. After all, “juveniles have a greater claim than adults to be forgiven for failing to escape negative influences[.]” Roper, 543 U.S. at 570. … It is all the more important for federal courts to recognize the salvageability of adolescent offenders because (with very limited exceptions not applicable here) the federal criminal justice system no longer permits parole. Judge Newman masterfully described the drastic unforeseen consequences of that decision in United States v. Portillo, 981 F.3d 181 (2d Cir. 2020). … For all these reasons, the Court finds that Ramsay's sentence of life imprisonment is utterly inconsistent with the goals of criminal sentencing. Ramsay's youth at the time of the offense, his upbringing, and his demonstrated rehabilitation, taken together, are extraordinary circumstances that compel a sentence reduction. … The Court would find extraordinary and compelling reasons for a sentence reduction even if it had sentenced Ramsay to life imprisonment as a matter of discretion. But these extraordinary circumstances are all the more compelling because, when the Court previously imposed its sentence, it had no choice in the matter. … Requiring a court to impose a mandatory minimum sentence on an adolescent offender -- especially a substantial minimum, like life without parole -- directly contravenes these principles. … To be sure, Ramsay was a legal adult of 18 when he murdered Speid, Brown, and her infant, so the mandatory life sentence did not violate the Eighth Amendment, as currently construed. But the fact that the Court was precluded from “tak[ing] into account the circumstances of the offense together with the character and propensities of the offender,”Sullivan, 302 U.S. at 55, including Ramsay's youth, was in obvious conflict with the Court's usual duty to ensure that punishments are “no greater than necessary” to satisfy the purposes of criminal sentencing. Therefore, the Court finds that the mandatory nature of Ramsay's sentence is an additional extraordinary and compelling reason warranting a sentence reduction, to the extent consistent with§ 3553 (a).”

Death Watch: The BOP has identified no new fatalities. Inmate COVID-19 deaths remains at 234. Five of these inmates died while on home confinement. Staff fatalities remain at 4.

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