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May 5, 2023: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE, COVID-19, and BOP BLOG


Fast Facts (Full BOP stats can be found here)


Confirmed active cases at 48 BOP facilities and 6 RRCs

Currently positive-testing inmates: 243 (up from 189) Currently positive-testing staff: 31 (unchanged) Recovered inmates currently in BOP: 43,885 (down from 43,989) Recovered staff: 15,275 (unchanged)


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

Yazoo City Low FCI: 137 (up from 105)

Alderson FPC: 47 (up from 28)

Yazoo City Medium FCI: 7(unchanged)


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

Forrest City Low FCI: 3 (unchanged)

Central Office HQ: 2 (unchanged)

Anderson FPC: 1


System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 145,495 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,722 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 128,640 (down from 128,641) Positive tests: 55,289 (unchanged)


Total vaccine doses administered: 350,203 (up from 350,101)


Case Note: Age, serious medical issues, weighing of § 3553(a) factors support compassionate release of defendant, 29 years into a life sentence...


in U.S. v. RAYFORD STEVENS, Defendant., No. CR 94-00002-KD, 2023 WL 3236892 (S.D. Ala. May 3, 2023), the district court granted defendant Rayford Stevens release based on his age (67) and serious medical conditions, 29 years into a life sentence, explaining: " In April 1994,1 the jury found Stevens guilty of conspiracy to commit armed robbery of a vehicle (Count One), armed robbery of a vehicle (Count Two), and use of a firearm during a crime of violence (Count Three). As to Count One and Two, respectively, he was sentenced to 60 months and life without parole, to serve concurrently. As to Count Three, he was sentenced to 60 months to serve consecutive to Count Three. If released, Stevens is subject to a five-year term of supervision. His convictions were affirmed on appeal....


Stevens argues that he “qualifies for compassionate release under the category, Age of the Defendant” because he is 67 years old, has served approximately 29 years in prison, and his physical health has seriously deteriorated because of the aging process (doc. 191, p. 10). Stevens argues that “it is critical to note that all of [his] major medical conditions have been diagnosed while he was incarcerated, thereby demonstrating a substantial deterioration of his health as he aged through his 50s and 60s.” (Id., p. 11).

“[D]eterioration due to age is extraordinary and compelling even if it does not diminish the ability for self-care as long as the defendant is at least 65 years old and has served the lesser of 10 years or 75 percent of his sentence.” United States v. Bryant, 996 F.3d 1243, 1250 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, 211 L. Ed. 2d 363, 142 S. Ct. 583 (2021) (citing U.S.S.G. § 1B1.13 cmt. n.1(B)).8 However, Stevens must show a “ ‘serious deterioration’ beyond what is normal to many individuals as part of the aging process.” United States v. Ramirez, 2022 WL 17411279, at *1 (11th Cir. 2022) (per curiam) (unreported opinion) (finding that district court did not err in deciding that Ramirez did not have a serious deterioration of health beyond what is normal for many individuals during the aging process). And he must be presently experiencing the serious deterioration of his health. United States v. Monaco, 832 Fed. Appx. 626, 629–30 (11th Cir. 2020) (“... Monaco argues that the body and mind deteriorate over time – and indeed they do – but until he has actually experienced a ‘serious deterioration’ because of the aging process, the policy statements do not support age alone as an extraordinary and compelling reason for compassionate release.”).


Stevens meets the age and years of imprisonment requirements. He is 67 years old and has served approximately 29 years in prison. Thus, the Court will address whether he has shown that his health has seriously deteriorated because of the aging process,9 that his serious deterioration is beyond normal for many individuals as part of the aging process, and that he is presently experiencing a serious deterioration.


As an initial consideration, Stevens consistently argues that he is not receiving prompt or proper medical treatment in prison and therefore, his health has deteriorated and will continue to deteriorate as he ages (doc. 191, doc. 199, doc. 205, doc. 207). His medical experts consistently opine that Stevens is not receiving prompt or proper treatment for his diagnosed illnesses and if he does not receive treatment his conditions will worsen in the future10 (doc. 191-4 (Rheumatologist); doc. 191-5 (Gastroenterologist); doc. 191-6 (Ophthalmologist), doc. 191-7 (Dentist). The primary issue is not whether Stevens is receiving prompt and proper medical treatment, but instead whether he is presently experiencing a serious deterioration of his health because of the aging process. Not receiving prompt or proper medical treatment at any age will worsen any condition. Additionally, this argument – that inadequate medical care may be an extraordinary and compelling reason for a reduction in sentence – appears to be foreclosed by circuit precedent. United States v. Bryant, 996 F. 3d 1243, 1263-1265 (11th Cir. 2021) (holding that the language “[a]s determined by the Director of Bureau of Prisons” contained within the catch-all provision precludes district courts from finding extraordinary and compelling reasons beyond those specified by the Sentencing Commission in Section 1B1.13); United States v. Giron, 15 F.4th 1343, 1347 (11th Cir. 2021) (“We held in Bryant that this language precluded district courts from finding extraordinary and compelling reasons within the catch-all provision beyond those specified by the Sentencing Commission in Section 1B1.13.”).


As another initial consideration, Stevens provides a list of diagnosed illnesses and argues that “all” of these medical conditions “are current conditions according to his BOP Medical Records.”11 (doc. 191, p. 11) (underlining in original). A close review of the prison medical records does not support Stevens' position as to several of his medical conditions. For example, he argues that he currently has “iridocyclitis (inflammation of the iris and uvea)” and if left untreated he may go blind in his remaining eye (doc. 191, p. 5-6, 11, 15). He argues that the presence of iridocyclitis indicates that his rheumatoid arthritis is not well-managed (Id.). His reviewing expert rheumatologist reports that iridocyclitis is “a manifestation of RA in the eye” and its presence indicates that the rheumatoid arthritis is not controlled (doc. 191-4, p. 2; (doc. 199, p. 3)....


However, at present, three medical conditions indicate that Stevens is experiencing a serious deterioration because of the aging process, which is beyond what is normally experienced. Although the loss of his left eye has not been linked to the aging process, that loss in combination with the deterioration of his right eye shows a serious deterioration in his vision beyond what is normal as part of the aging process. Although there is no evidence that Stevens has active or current iridocyclitis or uveitis, he presently experiences chronic dry eye syndrome (Sicca Syndrome or Sjogren's Syndrome) which appears related to his rheumatoid arthritis, and he has glaucoma, a “moderate central” corneal opacity,31 and a cataract in his right eye. He has been prescribed darkened lenses to protect the remaining vision in his right eye. Stevens' current diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and consequent or related joint issues, neuropathies, and dry eye syndrome, although stable with medication, support his argument. Last, Stevens' current diagnosis of hyperparathyroidism and parathyroid adenoma support his argument. Although hyperparathyroidism and parathyroid adenoma do not appear to be age-related medical conditions, the medical records indicate that Stevens' age is a critical factor in treatment decisions. His treating prison doctor has requested an endocrinology “consult for recommendation of either non-surgical vs. surgical management given inmate age to preclude long-term renal and skeletal sequalae” of the hyperparathyroidism (doc. 207-1, p. 12). Accordingly, the Court finds that Stevens has shown an extraordinary and compelling reason for a reduction of sentence.....


The Court must also consider whether Stevens is a danger to the safety of any other person, or the community as provided in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g). U.S.S.G. § 1B1.13(2). To do so, the Court considers the weight of the evidence against Stevens, his history and characteristics including his “character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings” 18 U.S.C.§ 3142(g).33...


At present, Stevens is classified at a “Low Risk Recidivism Level” and his “security classification” is “medium” (doc. 191-2, p. 2). Stevens points out that at his age, 67, he is statistically less likely to re-offend (doc. 191, p. 22). In support, he cites a chart published by the United States Sentencing Commission which shows that federal offenders who are 65 years or older have the lowest rate of recidivism, 4.1% (Id.).


As to rehabilitation, in 1997, Stevens had one disciplinary sanction for being in an unauthorized area (doc. 191-2, p. 1). While incarcerated, Stevens obtained his GED and completed drug education classes and other educational and self-improvement classes (doc. 191-2, p. 2, 14-15). He has worked as an electrician, painter, and in maintenance (Id., p. 6-8). Stevens has worked for UNICOR since 2019 “and currently works in the production of textiles” (doc. 191, p. 8)...


The Court must also consider the relevant factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)...


For the following reasons, the Court finds that Stevens' early release would not be contrary to the relevant factors in § 3553(a). The Court has considered the nature and circumstances of the offense. Without dispute, the car-jacking crime was serious. The victim died and his fiancé was severely traumatized (doc. 190). However, Stevens did not use a firearm and did not exit the vehicle. Although he drove away, he voluntarily turned himself in to law enforcement the next day.


The Court has also considered Stevens' history and characteristics. The presentence investigation report indicates that Stevens' criminal history was not extensive and none of his prior convictions were for crimes of violence. His inmate records indicate that he committed only one minor infraction. In this circumstance, the Court finds that serving 29 years in prison is sufficient to reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law, provide just punishment, afford adequate deterrence, and protect the public from the defendant's further crimes....1....


Upon consideration, and for the reasons set forth herein, Stevens' motion is due to be granted."


Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announces BOP COVID-related deaths here.) The total number of inmate COVID-related deaths is 317. Eleven of the inmates died while on home confinement. Staff deaths remain at 7.

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