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December 6, 2021: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE and BOP COVID-19 BLOG


Quick Facts (Full BOP stats can be found here) Currently positive-testing inmates: 210 (up from 173) Currently positive-testing staff: 207 (down from 210) Recovered inmates: 41,949 (down from 41,972) Recovered staff: 8,566 (up from 8,556)


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

Waseca FCI: 84 (up from 80)

Pollock FCI: 26 (up from 8)

Alderson FPC: 10

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

Carswell FMC: 13 (unchanged)

McKean FCI: 13 (unchanged)

La Tuna FCI: 8 (unchanged)

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 134,432 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 14,952 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 126,228 (up from 126,170) Positive tests: 41,759 (up from 41,745)


Total vaccine doses administered: 262,650 (up from 261,663)


Case Note: Defendant, serving 25-year sentence for Hobbs Act robbery, firearm and murder offenses, with a April 2023 release date, granted compassionate release...


In U.S. v. JAMES JOHNSON, Defendant., No. 98-CR-860(7) (ARR), 2021 WL 5755047 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 3, 2021), the defendant receives compassionate release on his third try, the court explaining in a redacted opinion, "At the age of nineteen, Mr. Johnson was recruited to commit robberies by Ozem Thomas, an older man in the business of enlisting teenagers to commit crimes in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn.... While Mr. Johnson had interacted with law enforcement only once before—at the age of sixteen and for an offense that resolved in a Youthful Offender adjudication—he was persuaded to join Mr. Thomas's enterprise by the promise of benefits. See Resentencing Letter 3; Resentencing Tr. 6:5–13. According to Mr. Johnson, Mr. Thomas would send his recruits to commit violent crimes, after which he would take them back to his house and reward them with drugs, alcohol, and money. Resentencing Tr. 5:23–6:4. During the commission of his first crime for Mr. Thomas, a robbery of New Clarkson Luncheonette, Mr. Johnson shot the store owner, Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim, once in the stomach; Mr. Ibrahim tragically died twelve days later. See Resentencing Letter 3–4. Mr. Johnson was arrested for his crimes on June 9, 1999, and has been incarcerated ever since. Id. ... I sentenced Mr. Johnson to twenty-five years’ imprisonment.


Mr. Johnson appears to have taken rehabilitative steps during his time incarcerated. Now age forty-three, Mr. Johnson has served over twenty-two years in prison, see Suppl. Second Mot., Ex. 8, 1 (“Summary Reentry Plan”), ECF No. 518-8, more than ninety percent of his sentence, Suppl. Second Mot. 7. During this time, he enrolled in dozens of courses, earned certificates in diverse coursework, including parenting, drug education, and communications, and worked as a compound orderly. See Summary Reentry Plan 1–2. Mr. Johnson has also maintained close relationships with members of his family while incarcerated, including his cousin, Rashuan Brumfield, and his mother, Cynthia Richardson. Suppl. Second Mot., Ex. 9, 2 (“Brumfield and Richardson Interviews”), ECF No. 518-9. Shortly after Mr. Johnson's arrest, his son, Jashaun, was born. Id. According to Mr. Brumfield, “[Mr. Johnson] has done the best he could to be involved in his son's life.” Id. ...

Mr. Brumfield and Ms. Richardson remain pillars in Mr. Johnson's life despite their decades apart....


I find that Mr. Johnson has established extraordinary and compelling reasons for release. [Redacted]

The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is exacerbated by Mr. Johnson's additional medical conditions—[Redacted]—and his incarceration... [T]hat the virus is now under control does not guarantee it will be contained in the future. At FCI Fort Dix, for example, cases among inmates decreased from 238 on November 17, 2020, to fifteen on December 18, 2020, but then rose again to 797 by January 11, 2021. ..

This risk of reoccurrence is the natural outgrowth of carceral settings, where people “cannot practice social distancing, control their exposure to large groups, practice increased hygiene, wear protective clothing, obtain specific products for cleaning and laundry, avoid frequently touched surfaces, or sanitize their own environment.” United States v. Skelos, No. 15-CR-317 (KMW), 2020 WL 1847558, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 12, 2020). ... The risk of breakthrough infection is greater among incarcerated individuals than members of the general public given the congregate setting of prisons. For that reason, some courts have continued to find the risk of COVID-19 germane to their analysis of extraordinary and compelling circumstances, even where, as here, the defendant is vaccinated, Gov't’s Opp'n Third Mot. 4. See, e.g., United States v. Salemo, No. 11-CR-65 (JSR), 2021 WL 4060354, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 7, 2021) (agreeing that the defendant's age and medical condition put him at risk for “a severe case of COVID-19” even though he was vaccinated and had already recovered from COVID-19); United States v. Sherrod, No. 19-CR-20139 (AJT), 2021 WL 3473236, at *5 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 6, 2021) (finding the risk of COVID-19 relevant to the court's “extraordinary and compelling” determination because “recent research reflects that 1) breakthrough infections are becoming more and more frequent, 2) a significant number of breakthrough infections may lead to so-called ‘long COVID,’ and 3) people [ ] who have underlying conditions and reside in congregate settings are at highest risk for severe illness, despite vaccination”); United States v. Sawyer, No. 15-CR-160(1) (TWB), 2021 WL 3051985, at *2 (E.D.N.C. June 15, 2021) (finding a defendant with multiple underlying conditions had demonstrated extraordinary and compelling reasons despite vaccination in part because of concerns that COVID-19 vaccines are less effective for obese people and those with other severe health conditions); ... Mr. Johnson could face serious illness and even death if infected with COVID-19. I therefore find that Mr. Johnson has provided sufficient evidence of extraordinary and compelling reasons for release....

In addition to the extraordinary and compelling reasons present in Mr. Johnson's case, the § 3553(a) factors also indicate that Mr. Johnson should be granted compassionate release....


Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announces BOP COVID-related deaths here.) The BOP has announced two new inmate fatalities, bringing the total inmate COVID-related deaths to 271. Ten of the inmate fatalities died while on home confinement. Staff deaths remain at 7.


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