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December 13, 2022: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE, COVID-19, and BOP BLOG


Fast Facts (Full BOP stats can be found here)


Confirmed active cases at 77 BOP facilities and 14 RRCs

Currently positive-testing inmates: 179 (down from 189) Currently positive-testing staff: 174 (up from 168) Recovered inmates currently in the BOP: 47,550 (up from 47,550) Recovered staff: 14,683 (up from 14,683)


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

Dublin FCI: 20 (up from 18)

Phoenix FCI: 14 (unchanged)

Carswell FMC: 13 (down from 16)


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

Central Office HQ: 58 (unchanged)

Brooklyn MDC: 7

Pekin FCI: 7 (unchanged)


System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 145,086 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,862 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 128,665 (up from 128,662) Positive tests: 55,313 (up from 55,310)


Total vaccine doses administered: 342,237 (up from 342,173 )


Case Note: District court wrongly ruled that defendant needed to pursue relief via a § 2255 habeas motion rather than through compassionate release...


In U.S. v. Munoz-Huerta, No. 22-10406, 2022 WL 17547451 (5th Cir. Dec. 9, 2022) (unpublished), the Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's denial of compassionate release, finding that defendant in fact sought to reduce his sentence, not challenge its legality, and so the district court erred in holding the defendant must pursue relief via § 2255, explaining: "Following a plea of guilty, the district court sentenced defendant-appellant Miguel Munoz-Huerta to 235 months confinement and four years of supervised release. Munoz-Huerta moved to reduce his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) – the compassionate release statute. Concluding that § 3582(c)(1)(A) was not the proper procedural mechanism for the relief sought, the district court construed the motion as one brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and afforded Munoz-Huerta the opportunity to “either (1) withdraw the document that the Court recharacterized as a Section 2255 motion or (2) file an amended motion on the Court's Section 2255 form that included all grounds for relief he believed were available to him.” Munoz-Huerta withdrew the motion. He then filed another motion to challenge his sentence, again under § 3582(c)(1)(A). The district court dismissed the motion without prejudice and, for the second time, advised Munoz-Huerta that he could properly challenge the validity of his sentence under § 2255. Munoz-Huerta appeals that dismissal. In his appellate briefing, Munoz-Huerta expressly states that he is not moving the Court to modify his sentence under § 2255, but under § 3582(c)(1)(A). He contends that § 3582(c)(1)(A) is a proper vehicle for sentence reduction in light of the First Step Act of 2018, which amended § 3582. In United States v. Shkambi, we explained:


Before the FSA [i.e., the First Step Act] amendment, the relevant provision of § 3582 read: “[T]he court, upon motion of the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, may reduce [a prisoner's] term of imprisonment....” 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) (2012). The FSA amended that text to read: [T]he court, upon motion of the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or upon motion of the defendant after the defendant has fully exhausted all administrative rights to appeal a failure of the Bureau of Prisons to bring a motion on the defendant's behalf or the lapse of 30 days from the receipt of such a request by the warden of the defendant's facility, whichever is earlier, may reduce [a prisoner's] term of imprisonment....18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) (2018) (italics indicating amendment).

993 F.3d 388, 391-92 (5th Cir. 2021). Accordingly, we observed that the First Step Act's amendment allowed for a defendant to move the court to reduce his or her term of imprisonment under § 3582(c)(1)(A). Id. at 392. That is what Munoz-Huerta seeks to do here. And he should have the opportunity to have the merits of his § 3582(c)(1)(A) motion heard by the district court and the relevant compassionate-release standards applied. Therefore, we REVERSE and REMAND for proceedings consistent with this opinion.”


Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announces BOP COVID-related deaths here.) No new deaths within the BOP have been announced, leaving the reported inmate death toll at 309. Eleven of the inmates died while on home confinement. Staff deaths remain at 7.


Job Posting: The Equitable Justice Network, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is looking for an executive director. Details here. In short, the Equitable Justice Network (EJN) focuses on essential Criminal Justice Reform efforts in the specific areas of; clemency and compassionate release, humanitarian advocacy efforts (medical advocacy) and legislative advocacy (Federal and State); exit ramps from prison. The Executive Director will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for EJN’s staff, programs, development/fundraising, expansion, and execution of its mission. Any interested applicants can reach out to aviva@aleph-institute.org.

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