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November 1, 2021: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE and BOP COVID-19 BLOG


Quick Facts (Full BOP Stats can be found here) Currently positive-testing inmates: 148 (down from 155) Currently positive-testing staff: 351 (down from 369) Recovered inmates: 42,747 (down from 42,776) Recovered staff: 8,190 (up from 8,169)


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

Allenwood Low FCI: 24 (unchanged)

Canaan UPS: 14 (unchanged)

Forrest City Medium FCI: 12 (unchanged)

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

Oakdale I FCI: 27 (unchanged)

Phoenix FCI: 27 (unchanged)

Forrest City Medium: 21 (unchanged)

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 133,000 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 14,786 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 124,205 (up from 124,194) Positive tests: 42,461 (down from 42,496)


Total vaccine doses administered: 239,924 (up from 239,008)

Case Note: Child soldier of FARC awarded compassionate release based, inter alia, on youth, rehabilitation, family circumstances, and disparity created by U.S. agreement to not extradite FARC members who self-surrendered in Colombia, which resulted in FARC leader getting a pass...


In U.S. v. ALEJANDRO PALACIOS RENGIFO, No. 09-CR-109 (JSR), 2021 WL 5027334, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 29, 2021) (Ed. Note: Mr. Rengifo was represented by blog editors Richard Levitt and Zach Segal), SDNY Judge Rakoff granted compassionate release to a FARC child soldier who was sentenced to 14 years for helping to guard a U.S. citizen who had been kidnapped for ransom, explaining: "Rengifo was both a perpetrator and a victim of violence committed by the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (“FARC”), a Marxist-Leninist guerilla group that was engaged in a violent conflict with the Colombian government from 1964 through 2016. During the conflict, the FARC financed its operations through various illegal activities, including narcotics production and trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, and illegal gold mining.1 Approximately 220,000 Colombians are thought to have died in the armed conflict through 2012, 81 percent of them civilians, and more than 8 million Colombians have registered with the Colombian government as conflict victi In 2016 the FARC and the Colombian government signed a comprehensive peace agreement, which received crucial support from the United States government, a longtime patron of the Colombian government. For the FARC as an organization, the peace accords led to disarmament and a transition into a Colombian political party. For FARC guerillas, the 2016 peace accords were intended to lead to demobilization and social reintegration through a new, transitional justice system.

As part of the deal, the Colombian government guaranteed that no FARC members would be extradited to the United States for crimes committed before December 1, 2016, when the peace accord took effect. The U.S. government -- which had a longstanding policy of aggressively prosecuting extradited FARC members for a wide array of criminal activities directed at the United States -- acquiesced in the extradition ban as part of President Barack Obama's policy of promoting the Colombian peace process.

Rengifo was a child soldier conscripted into the FARC in or around 1998 at age 13, when he was kidnapped from his rural village in the jungle near the Colombia-Panama border. Rengifo was then subjected to years of isolation, harsh treatment, and indoctrination. His FARC commanders provided repeated warnings and demonstrations that the FARC would seek to kill guerillas who tried to escape.

For approximately 10 months between 2008 and 2009, Rengifo was ordered to serve as one of the armed guards of a U.S. citizen kidnapped for ransom and held hostage in a makeshift jungle camp near the Colombia-Panama border. Rengifo had no role in the initial kidnapping and sought repeatedly to be relieved of guard duty. In 2009, Rengifo escaped from the FARC with several others, turned himself in to the Colombian government, and entered an amnesty program for reintegration of former FARC guerillas. At the time, the amnesty program permitted criminal prosecution and extradition of FARC members who had participated in kidnapping and other crimes against humanity. After the FARC's former hostage identified Rengifo in a photo book, the Colombian government located Rengifo in a demobilization camp and extradited him to face trial in this Court.

Rengifo, now 35 years old, moves this Court for modification of his sentence. See ECF 162 (“Mot.”) Rengifo argues that there are several factors that together establish that “extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant” modification of his sentence. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i). These include his youth at the time of the offense and his demonstrated rehabilitation, his ill family members, the harsh conditions of confinement implemented to control the spread of COVID-19 in prison, and the change in the law produced by the 2016 peace accords between Colombia and the FARC. The Government opposes Rengifo's motion. While it “acknowledges that the defendant has a commendable prison record,” the Government contends that none of the issues Rengifo has raised establishes, separately or together, the “extraordinary and compelling reasons” required for sentence modification under section 3582(c).

After carefully considering the parties’ papers and thoughtful presentations at oral argument, the Court holds that there are extraordinary and compelling reasons warranting Rengifo's early release. The Court therefore grants Rengifo's motion for sentence modification for the reasons set forth below. Rengifo's custodial sentence is hereby reduced to time served and his sentence of 3 years’ supervised release is vacated. If Rengifo is to be deported, the Court recommends that the Government move as expeditiously as possible to return Rengifo to Colombia."


Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announces BOP COVID-related deaths here.) The BOP has identified a previously counted inmate COVID fatality as James Ray Sapp, 75, of FMC Butner, who died October 23, 2021. Total inmate COVID-related deaths remain at 266. Ten of the inmate fatalities died while on home confinement. Staff deaths remain at 7.

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