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February 23, 2023: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE, COVID-19, and BOP BLOG


Fast Facts (Full BOP stats can be found here)


Confirmed active cases at 59 BOP facilities and 5 RRCs

Currently positive-testing inmates: 198 (unchanged) Currently positive-testing staff: 55 (up from 54) Recovered inmates currently in the BOP: 45,649 (unchanged) Recovered staff: 15,170 (up from 15,167)


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

Carswell FMC: 52 (unchanged)

Allenwood Low FCI: 25 (unchanged)

Fort Dix FCI: 11 (unchanged)


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

Devens FMC: 6 (up from 5)

Terminal Island FCI: 5 (unchanged)

Carswell FMC: 4 (unchanged)


System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 144,762 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 12,719 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 128,648 (unchanged) Positive tests: 55,297 (unchanged)


Total vaccine doses administered: 347,999 (unchanged)


Case Note: "Frail people are left to die in prison as judges fail to act on a law to free them" ...


An NPR article published February 21, titled "Frail people are left to die in prison as judges fail to act on a law to free them," details, among other things, the disparate treatment accorded compassionate release applicants depending on the district considering them:


... The number of applications for compassionate release began soaring in March 2020, when the World Health Organization declared a pandemic emergency. Even as COVID devastated prisons, judges repeatedly denied most requests.


Research has shown that high rates of incarceration in the U.S. accelerated the spread of COVID infections. Nearly 2,500 people held in state and federal prisons died of COVID-19 from March 2020 through February 2021, according to an August report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Charles Breyer, the former acting chair of the sentencing commission, has acknowledged that compassionate releases have been granted inconsistently.


Data suggests decisions in federal courts varied widely by geography. For example, the 2nd Circuit (Connecticut, New York, and Vermont) granted 27% of requests, compared with about 16% nationally. The 5th Circuit (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas) approved about 10 %.


Judges in the 11th Circuit (Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) approved roughly 11% of requests. In one Alabama district, only six of 141 motions were granted — or about 4% — the sentencing commission data shows.


Judges in the 11th Circuit seem to define "extraordinary and compelling reasons" more conservatively than judges in other parts of the nation, said Amy Kimpel, a law professor at the University of Alabama.


"This made it more difficult for us to win," said Kimpel, who has represented incarcerated people through her role on the nonprofit Redemption Earned.


Sentencing commission officials did not make leaders available to answer questions about whether a lack of guidance from the panel kept sick and dying people behind bars.


The new sentencing commission chair, Carlton Reeves, said during a public hearing in October that setting new guidelines for compassionate release is a top priority....


According to a 2020 lawsuit, hundreds of people locked in the Butner prison were diagnosed with the virus and eight people died in the early months of the pandemic. An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit, called the prison "a death trap." ...


Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announces BOP COVID-related deaths here.) Today, the BOP announced no new COVID-related deaths, leaving the total number of inmate COVID-related deaths at 312. Eleven of the inmates died while on home confinement. Staff deaths remain at 7.


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