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July 21, 2022: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE and BOP COVID-19 BLOG



Fast Facts (Full BOP stats can be found here)


Confirmed active cases at 111 BOP facilities and 17 RRCs

Currently positive-testing inmates: 473 (down from 483) Currently positive-testing staff: 439 (up from 426) Recovered inmates currently in the BOP: 49,723 (down from 49,757) Recovered staff: 13,242 (up from 13,238)


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

Phoenix FCI: 48 (up from 43)

Lompoc USP: 47 (unchanged)

Texarcana FCI: 40

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

Central Headquarters: 47 (unchanged)

Carswell FMC: 21 (unchanged)

Houston FDC: 18 (unchanged)

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 140,541 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,795 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 128,704 (up from 128,703) Positive tests: 55,352 (up from 55,351)


Total vaccine doses administered: 324,998 (up from 324,597)


Case Note: Compassionate release granted to inmate denied proper medical care...


In U.S. v. Verasawmi, No. CR 17-254 (FLW), 2022 WL 2763518 (D.N.J. July 15, 2022) (Wolfson, CJ), once again, a court holds the BOP’s neglectful treatment of petitioner’s medical conditions warrants compassionate release, explaining: "On September 12, 2018, the Court sentenced Verasawmi to forty-eight months imprisonment and an additional three years of supervised release, with special conditions for mental health treatment. … Due to certain concerning statements Verasawmi made at her sentencing hearing, the Court ordered her to comply with the directions of Pretrial Services, ECF No. 61 at 58–59, and Pretrial Services referred Verasawmi to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. After an evaluation, Verasawmi was involuntarily committed to the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital (“TPH”), where she remained through May 8, 2020, approximately twenty months after the date of her sentencing. … The BOP originally designated FCI Dansbury, in Connecticut, as the facility where Verasawmi would serve her sentence. ECF No. 94 at 5; Appendix [“A”] at 238. Due to a variety of medical conditions, which the Court summarizes infra, the BOP re-assigned Verasawmi to FMC Carswell, a medical facility in Texas. … Verasawmi filed the instant motion seeking compassionate release from prison and an early commencement of her term of supervised release. The motion identifies a long list of physical and mental medical conditions from which Verasawmi suffered before entering BOP custody, including: lung damage resulting from her COVID-19 infection, requiring Verasawmi to remain on continuous oxygen assistance, see ECF No. 102 at 6–7 and A2, 14, 16, 18, 66; vocal cord damage, including diagnosed vocal cord paralysis and subglottic stenosis (a narrowing of the vocal cords),1 which resulted from intubation, see ECF No. 102 at 7–8 and A79, 184–85; cardiac issues, including a “right bundle branch block” that “could be consistent with pulmonary arterial hypertension,” see ECF No. 102 at 8 and A3; incontinence, which requires her to wear diapers continuously, see ECF No. 102 at 8 and A241; back pain resulting from constant coughing, see ECF No. 102 at 8 and A190; COVID-19 long-hauler symptoms, including “memory problems, fatigue, episodic coughing, headaches, and migraines,” ; and mental illness, including pre-sentencing diagnoses for major depressive disorder and general anxiety, as well as reported suicide attempts and ideation[.] Since surrendering to FMC Carswell, Verasawmi continues to suffer from the same ailments, and she contends that the BOP is not providing adequate treatment for some of her conditions. With respect to her throat injuries, notwithstanding her March 2021 surgery, a BOP ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician recommended follow-up surgery, which BOP had not scheduled as of September 2021. ECF No. 102 at 13. Following a urinalysis, Verasawmi received a provisional diagnosis of chronic hematuria, which consists of bloody urine that is caused, in some circumstances, by conditions such as kidney disease. Id. There was no indication that BOP had scheduled a follow-up appointment, although Verasawmi notes that a kidney ultrasound was scheduled in October 2021. Id. As for her liver and digestive problems, Verasawmi complains there was no indication, as of September 2021, that BOP planned to address these conditions…. On May 25, 2022, Verasawmi filed a letter updating the Court on her conditions and reiterating her request for compassionate release. ECF No. 105. She notes that for certain conditions, the BOP is rendering medical care that differs from what she received outside prison: (1) while she was placed on Care Level 4 before entering prison,2 FMC Carswell placed her on Care Level 3;3 (2) although she receives psychotropic medication to treat her depression, she is not enrolled in a mental health treatment program; (3) while BOP provides extra toilet paper to address her urinary incontinence, she has not seen a urologist; and (4) even though she uses a CPAP machine at night to address her sleep apnea, she is still waiting to see a pulmonologist for a follow-up appointment, as requested in January 2022. Id. at 3–4. For other conditions, Verasawmi contends that the BOP is providing inadequate care. Verasawmi had previously received an echocardiogram (EKG) that illustrated blockage consistent with pulmonary arterial hypertension, and during an appointment in January 2022, a cardiologist observed atypical chest pain and bradycardia. Id. at 4; May Appendix [“MA”] at 51.4 The cardiologist ordered a 48-hour Holter monitor and an EKG,5 as well as a follow-up appointment for three-to-four weeks later with an “[u]rguent” priority level, but no follow-up had occurred as of Verasawmi's May 2022 letter. ECF No. 105 at 4; MA51. Likewise, in January 2022, a neurologist prescribed a twice-weekly “prophylactic sumatriptan injection” to treat Verasawmi's migraines, but the BOP took “several more months ... to provide this medication,” and because it is accessible only in the “pill line,” Verasawmi cannot access the medication before her migraines begin. ECF No. 105 at 5. As of her May 2022 letter, she still awaited a neurology follow-up appointment scheduled for April 2022. … As of July 8, 2022, Verasawmi had received neither the Holter monitor or EKG ordered in early January, nor the cardiology follow-up appointment scheduled for several weeks later, due to “an administrative failure.” Id. at 2. The Government reports that Verasawmi was scheduled to receive the EKG and Holter monitor on July 12, 2022, and that the BOP scheduled a cardiology follow-up appointment for July 15, 2022. Id. Verasawmi's pulmonology follow-up appointment also had not occurred as of July 8, 2022. … Several courts have concluded that the failure to provide necessary treatment or undue delays in treating serious medical conditions may present “extraordinary and compelling reasons” warranting compassionate release. … A motion for compassionate release premised on the BOP's “indifference” to an inmate's medical conditions or failure to provide adequate care bears similarities to claims under the Eighth Amendment for “deliberate indifference” to a prisoner's “serious medical needs.” Palakovic v. Wetzel, 854 F.3d 209, 228 (3d Cir. 2017). … Nevertheless, a plaintiff can establish deliberate indifference by showing that prison officials “opt[ed] for ‘an easier and less efficacious treatment’ of the inmate's condition,” Palakovic, 854 F.3d at 228 (quoting West v. Keve, 571 F.2d 158, 162 (3d Cir. 1978)), “ ‘den[ied] reasonable requests for medical treatment ... [when] such denial expose[d] the inmate to undue suffering or the threat of tangible residual injury,’ ” In light of the foregoing case law, the severity of Verasawmi's various conditions, combined with the delays and inadequacies in her treatment, constitute “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances warranting early release. She has identified multiple areas in which the BOP either neglected to provide urgent treatment its own healthcare professionals had recommended or repeatedly delayed for months in providing scheduled care. … Verasawmi also identifies areas where the BOP is providing care that differs in certain respects from what she received before entering prison. See ECF No. 105 at 3–4. One notable issue pertains to mental health. After concerns arose around the time of her sentencing, Verasawmi was involuntarily committed to TPH, where she spent over a year in the most restrictive level of inpatient psychiatric treatment. She was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, and in prison, she notes that she is receiving psychotropic medication, but that she is not enrolled in a mental health treatment program, as she was before entering BOP custody. See ECF No. 105 at 3–4; MA 77, 90. Given the apparent severity of Verasawmi's mental health condition, the discrepancy in treatment compared to what she received outside prison adds to the Court's concerns regarding the level of care Verasawmi is receiving at FMC Carswell. … In these atypical circumstances, where Verasawmi suffers from a complex array of serious conditions, some of which the BOP has failed to treat diligently, the Court cannot simply wait until those outcomes materialize. The Court acknowledges the demands placed on the BOP and appreciates the Government's efforts to expedite Verasawmi's delayed appointments. Nevertheless, taken together, the factors outlined herein cast substantial doubt on whether the BOP is able to “adequately manag[e] [Verasawmi's] medical care.”


Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announces BOP COVID-related deaths here.) The BOP has announced one new COVID-related inmate death, that of FCI Petersburg Medium inmate Earl Johnson, 50, on January 18, 2022, Total COVID-related inmate deaths now stand at 302. Eleven of the inmates died while on home confinement. Staff deaths remain at 7.

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