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June 9, 2022: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE and BOP COVID-19 BLOG



Fast Facts (Full BOP stats can be found here) Currently positive-testing inmates: 167 (up from 165) Currently positive-testing staff: 309 (up from 300) Recovered inmates currently in the BOP: 50,906 (unchanged) Recovered staff: 12,817 (up from 12,810)


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

Honolulu FDC: 32 (down from 33)

Bastrop FCI: 31 (unchanged)

Marianna FCI: 9 (unchanged)

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

Central Headquarters: 30 (up from 29)

Victorville Medium I FCI: 13 (unchanged)

Victorville USP: 13 (unchanged)

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 139,787 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,681 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 128,719 (up from 128,717) Positive tests: 55,367 (up from 55,365)


Total vaccine doses administered: 320,257 (unchanged)


Case Note: Judge takes a chance on defendant with spotty record and who declined vaccination....


In U.S. v. EBONY CHERELLE TAFOYA, Defendant., No. CR 19-24-BU-DLC, 2022 WL 2064873, at *1–2 (D. Mont. June 8, 2022) (Dana Christensen, D.J.), the court granted compassionate release to defendant convicted of distributing meth, who had spotty record but had multiple medical problems and showed promise, explaining: Defendant Tafoya moves the Court to reduce the sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A). She is currently serving a 48-month sentence for a federal drug offense. See Judgment (Doc. 45). Her projected release date is now December 31, 2022.

Tafoya has a history of hypertension, asthma, and severe stimulant-related disorder. She also contracted COVID-19 in the winter of 2020–21. See Supp. Med. Record (Doc. 58-1) at 11–13. Each of these chronic conditions increases her risk of developing severe illness if she contracts COVID-19 again... Tafoya declined vaccination, see Medical Record (Doc. 57-1) at 156, 160, but other factors supersede this concern.

In August and September of 2021, Tafoya suffered a stroke, underwent cranial surgery, and incurred a post-surgical infection. For whatever reasons, FCI Dublin did not deliver the medical follow-up care and monitoring she required. See Br. in Supp. at 10–15. The time she has served has been unnecessarily harsh and frightening. These conditions were no part of the sentence imposed.

Tafoya shows an extraordinary and compelling reason to reduce her sentence to time served.


B. Section 3553(a) Factors Tafoya's record in prison poses some concern. She had three disciplinary write-ups, two about a week apart in January 2021, and another in August 2021. See Disciplinary Record (Doc. 57-1) at 1. Notably, however, these are times when she was ill or recovering from illness, with COVID-19 in January and with headaches and the stroke occurring in August.

Tafoya's criminal history also poses some concern. She has been willing to use violence and weapons in the past, against both intimates and strangers. See, e.g., Presentence Report ¶¶ 51, 52; see also id. ¶¶ 57–58 (charges dismissed). On one occasion, five days after she was arrested for the battery of her boyfriend, she returned to the scene of her arrest at a convenience store to threaten the clerk who worked there and witnessed her actions. See id. ¶¶ 52, 58. Due to the incident of battery and later violations of the conditions of her suspended sentence, Tafoya received the only custodial sentence she had served before she went to prison for the instant offense. She was arrested again a couple of months after discharging the sentence, but she complied with all the conditions of the deferred sentence for that offense, and the offense itself did not involve any violence. See Presentence Report ¶ 54. She did not use violence or possess weapons in connection with the federal offense. See id. ¶¶ 10–25.

Tafoya's advisory guideline range at sentencing was 108 to 135 months. See Statement of Reasons (Doc. 46) at 1 § III. She qualified for the safety valve. See id. § II(B). She received a significant downward variance to a sentence of 48 months, because her role in the offense was precipitated by her addiction and the absence of a safe and stable home environment. She distributed a large amount of methamphetamine, but she did not play a major role in the overall distribution scheme. See id. at 3 § VI(D).

Most significantly for present purposes, Tafoya did well on pretrial and presentencing release. She self-reported to serve her prison sentence. Most defendants charged with drug crimes are not released pending trial or sentencing. Many who are charged with methamphetamine offenses violate conditions of their release. Tafoya tested positive for alcohol on one occasion, see Presentence Report ¶ 9, but no other infraction was reported. She maintained a good job that she enjoyed, and her employer said she was “a great employee” with “a good attitude,” a “hard worker,” and he was “lucky to have her.” Id. ¶ 107. She has proved she can do well under supervision and contribute meaningfully to her community.


C. Conclusion Tafoya has served unusually and unnecessarily hard time. The Court has confidence in her ability to abide by the law and wants to see her living a better life. She will have an opportunity to do so. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED: Tafoya's motion for compassionate release under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) is GRANTED....


Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announces BOP COVID-related deaths here.) The BOP has identified the death, on May 22, 2022, of William Russell Mills, 65, of FMC Fort Worth, raising the inmate death toll to 296. Eleven of the inmates died while on home confinement. Staff deaths remain at 7.



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