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November 12, 2021: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE and BOP COVID-19 BLOG



Quick Facts (Full BOP Stats can be found here) Currently positive-testing inmates: 145 (down from 158) Currently positive-testing staff: 253 (up from 246) Recovered inmates: 42,459 (down from 42,524) Recovered staff: 8,372 (up from 8,364)


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

Terre Haute FCI: 30

Canaan USP: 28

Forrest City Medium FCI: 15

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

Central Office HQ: 15

Carswell FMC: 13 (unchanged)

Florence ADMAX USP: 13

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 133,778 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 14,812 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 125,162 (up from 125,126) Positive tests: 42,186 (down from 42,262)


Total vaccine doses administered: 248,447 (up from 246,259)

Case Note: Court cuts 8 years from 48 year sentence imposed by different judge who lamented compelled "tragedy" of 48 year sentence for double murder defendant with horrendous personal background...


In U.S. v. RAY ANTHONY RAMIREZ, 2021 WL 5233512 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 10, 2021) (McMahon, J.), the court, observing that defendant's sentencing Judge, Hon. Sweet, lamented his inability to deviate from the guidelines in imposing a 48-year sentence, cut defendant's sentence by 8 years -- "as low as this Court will go for this twice murderer” -- explaining: "On June 2, 2000, Judge Sweet issued a sentencing opinion similarly finding that the Guidelines sentence was 48 years’ imprisonment. Because the sentencing took place before the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 200 (2005), the Court did not have any discretion to depart from the Guidelines sentence. On June 6, 2000, the parties appeared for sentencing. Judge Sweet criticized the structure of the drug trafficking laws and indicated that it would have granted a downward departure if it had discretion to do so.

This sentence is a tragedy. You are going to spend your adult life in jail. If I were in a position to do it, I would downwardly depart, but I don't feel under all the circumstances that I can exercise my own beliefs and persuasions contrary to the dictates of the legislation and Congress. I guess what I will do is send the minutes of this proceeding to both judiciary committees in the hope that some way, somehow someone will recognize the human tragedy... I [impose the sentence] with much regret and a heavy heart. I can only say it's very difficult to look forward to the next ... some 40 years, and say I hope something good comes out of it for you personally. Maybe you can figure out some way to make it make sense. I can't.

See Sentencing Transcript at 6-7 (attached as Exhibit B). Judge Sweet proceeded to sentence defendant to 48 years’ imprisonment. … Ramirez also personally participated in two different murders as part of his involvement in the Bryant Avenue Organization. In January 1998, he personally shot and killed a rival drug dealer named John Martinez by shooting him multiple times at point-blank range. In November 1997, he ordered other members of the Bryant Avenue Organization to shoot and kill another rival drug dealer named Jesus Fornes after Fornes was kidnapped, cuffed, and brought to an alley behind a strip club in the Bronx. … That said, Judge Sweet believed that the 48 years sentence he was obliged to impose was tragic in the circumstances and that, had he the power, he would have downwardly departed. Why did Judge Sweet feel that way? After all, Ramirez was looking at the death penalty for the two murders he committed in furtherance of the drug trafficking organization, before the Government relented, and the parties worked out a plea deal that also spared him a sentence of life in-prison. The answer, I believe, can be found in the Presentence Investigation Report that the Probation Department provided to Judge Sweet at the time of sentence. From an extremely young age, Ramirez's life revolved around drug abuse and neglect. Ramirez's father, a long-time substance abuser, died from AIDS in 1992, when Ramirez was 14 years old. See Presentence Report (“PSR”) at ¶ 89 (attached as Exhibit E). His most enduring memory of their relationship was the guilt he experienced when he refused his father's pleas to pull the intravenous tubes to end his father's suffering. Ramirez's mother also abused drugs until she herself contracted the HIV virus in the late 1990s. From an early age, Ramirez was affected by his mother's drug use and street life. … Ramirez would observe his mother “on the street” working as a prostitute. Id. at ¶ 87. In his early teens, Ramirez went to live with his grandmother after his stepfather committed suicide and his mother was incarcerated for a drug conviction. … While Ramirez terrible upbringing does not in any way excuse his drug dealing and murders, it does explain how he came to “choose” the path he did. Likely, it was the awful tale of Ramirez young life that led Judge Sweet to believe a prison sentence of 48 years to be—by some degree—too long; that such a young man was capable of redemption, and should be afforded some level of mercy, beyond the 48 year plea deal he was offered. For his part, Ramirez has taken advantage of the programming and services offered to him by the Bureau of Prisons. … One of Ramirez's drug counselors at Lewisburg, Richard Whitmare, MSW, LCSW, prepared an extraordinary progress report, dated October 19, 2010: “[Ramirez's] time served has been very telling as exemplified by his pro-social conduct, rehabilitative accomplishments, selfless service to others, and exceptional programmatic achievements. ... there are inmates and institutions benefitting in a substantial way from the positive ripple effect being generated as a result of [his] pro social [ ] and positive initiative. I am confident he will have an even greater positive impact on is fellow man upon his return to the community.” Also included as part of Ramirez's compassionated release presentation is a book of poems that he has written, that were published in 2013. Id. at Exhibit L. Ramirez's poems are mostly wistful, dark reflections on his sad predicament; but his work also suggests a person on a spiritual journey of redemption. … Ramirez appears to have accepted Judge Sweet's challenge at sentencing that he “figure out some way to make [his 48 years in prison] make sense”. … The Court is unmoved by the Government's argument that such minor infractions—an apparent argument with a staff member on one occasion, and gambling on one occasion—over these many years undercuts the mountain of documentation that defendant has produced to show he is a changed person and ready to live as a law abiding citizen in the community. … Notwithstanding the seriousness of the offenses, Judge Sweet believed that the history and characteristics of the young man who stood before him mitigated against a sentence of 48 years in prison. Ramirez had endured an abusive upbringing that scarred him both mentally and physically. Judge Sweet believed, no doubt, that a defendant who commits his crimes at such a young age and after enduring such abuse, is capable of redemption and should be afforded some measure of mercy. Judge Sweet expressed great remorse that he had no discretion to downward depart from the Guidelines. Had sentencing occurred less than five years later, after Booker, Judge Sweet would have almost certainly downwardly departed. Thus the question for the Court in considering the present motion: Should the Court find that Ramirez's “age at the time of his crime and [Judge Sweet's] statements about the injustice of his lengthy sentence,” viewed in light of Ramirez now demonstrated rehabilitation, (see Brooker, 976 F.3d at 238), constitutes an extraordinary and compelling reason to reduce his sentence on compassionate grounds? Given Judge Sweet's expressed belief that Ramirez was redeemable and that his young age mitigated against the long sentence he was constrained to impose, and in light of Ramirez's extraordinary post-conviction rehabilitation, the Court will grant defendant's motion to the extent that his sentence will be reduced by eight years. While this may not reflect the downward departure Judge Sweet contemplated, it is as far as this Court is prepared to go. Notwithstanding Ramirez's dreadful upbringing, his young age when he committed his crimes, and rehabilitation, forty years in prison is as low as this Court will go for this twice murderer.”



Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announces BOP COVID-related deaths here.) The BOP has identified no new COVID-19 fatalities. 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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