Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
 
Search

November 5, 2021: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE and BOP COVID-19 BLOG



Quick Facts (Full BOP Stats can be found here) Currently positive-testing inmates: 154 (up from 133) Currently positive-testing staff: 286 (unchanged) Recovered inmates: 42,622 (down from 42,651) Recovered staff: 8,293 (up from 8,284)


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

Canaan UPS: 46 (up from 31)

Forrest City Medium FCI: 9 (unchanged)

Brooklyn MDC: 9 (unchanged)

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

Forrest City Medium FCI: 21 (unchanged)

Forrest City Low FCI: 21 (unchanged)

Devens FMC: 14 (unchanged)

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 133,634 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 14,848 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 124,874(up from 124,532) Positive tests: 42,351 (down from 42,358)


Total vaccine doses administered: 243,714 (up from 241,481)

Case Note: Court grants compassionate release and permits defendant to skip RRC placement to facilitate his participation in custody hearings to ensure daughter does not remain in foster care...


In U.S. v. Fields, 2021 WL 5112251 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 3, 2021) (Rufe, J.) (Court grants CR to defendant, allowing him to skip RRC placement so he can participate in custody hearings to ensure his daughter does not remain in foster care, explaining: "On October 8, 2021, Mr. Fields filed an Emergency Request for Compassionate Release. This Compassionate Release motion asserted that his imminent release to a halfway house and ongoing child custody proceedings surrounding the care of his twelve-year-old daughter were “extraordinary and compelling” reasons supporting a modification of his sentence. … On July 26, 2021, Mr. Fields received a notice from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Family Division – Juvenile Court (the “Juvenile Court”) that his twelve-year-old daughter, here referred to as “T.F.,” had been placed in protective custody and removed from her mother's home following allegations of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse at the hands of her mother and her mother's boyfriend. On investigation, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (“DHS”) learned certain supporting details and attempted to initiate a “Safety Plan” that placed T.F. with one of her maternal great-grandmothers. However, this placement failed,and T.F. “was placed in foster care through A Second Chance, Inc.” Based partly on the fact that “[Mr. Fields] is incarcerated,” DHS recommended that T.F. “be committed to the [custody of the] the City of Philadelphia Department of Human Services.” … On September 9, 2021, Mr. Fields received a letter (apparently mailed on September 2, 2021) notifying him that another court hearing in the custody matter had been held on August 31, 2021, belatedly reminding him of the meeting scheduled for September 8, 2021, and informing him that a “contested adjudicatory hearing” was scheduled for November 1, 2021. On receipt of this notice, Mr. Fields immediately filed a request for compassionate release based on the ongoing custody proceedings. … Mr. Fields argues that since his prior motion for compassionate release he has completed a significant portion of his remaining sentence, and that he is scheduled for release to a halfway house in less than five months.The Court also notes Mr. Fields's good behavior during his twelve years of incarceration; the only disciplinary infraction of which the Court has been made aware occurred when, in 2018, Mr. Fields was found in possession of a cell phone. … Here, Mr. Fields's daughter is currently in foster care, and Mr. Fields cannot participate directly in the Juvenile Court proceedings. Mr. Fields's filings express a very reasonable fear that his daughter might be traumatized by her current living situation and that his ability to take custody of his daughter is prejudiced by his incarceration. The background and procedural posture of this motion weigh in favor of a finding that Mr. Fields's concerns are genuine. Mr. Fields filed the present motion for compassionate release only after the resolution of the issues surrounding his scheduled release and the warden's initial denial of his BOP petition, when Mr. Fields was certain that (1) his release date was imminent, (2) he would not be released to a halfway house in time to participate in his daughter's custody proceedings, and (3) his administrative request to the BOP for compassionate release was unlikely to be successful. Nothing before the Court suggests any dilatory behavior, opportunistic filing, or other disrespect for the rule of law. … The Court concludes that the community is unlikely to be endangered if Mr. Fields is released slightly early, as the custody proceedings provide a powerful incentive for Mr. Fields to avoid activity that would jeopardize his right to participate. … Mr. Fields claims that the inability of T.F.’s mother to care for T.F. presents an “extraordinary or compelling” reason for the Court to modify the terms of his incarceration so that he can participate in custody proceedings. The government argues that Mr. Fields's “situation, while very sad, does not justify compassionate release,” and notes that “[i]t is not unusual that a parent cannot be involved in child custody matters due to incarceration. … Where a movant seeks compassionate release because their child has been removed from the custodial parent either due to abuse or neglect or due to the custodial parent's incarceration, courts have articulated a number of factors relevant to compassionate release. However, these factors are far from a strict test, and determinations are ultimately individual assessments based on the specific facts before each court. If a movant is the only available alternative caregiver and the applicable sentencing factors do not weigh against release, it may be unreasonable for a court not to find an extraordinary circumstance that warrants compassionate release. However, a movant need not meet that standard to establish that release is warranted. … The government argues that Mr. Fields “makes no showing that he is the only available caregiver for the child, as would be required at minimum to justify compassionate release.” Mr. Fields points to the documentation he submitted describing DHS's custody investigation and the proceedings before the Juvenile Court, and argues that it indicates that there is no other available caregiver, and that the submitted correspondence with the case manager shows that the case manager is “directly assisting [Mr. Fields] with a child-parent reunification plan.” While Mr. Fields has provided no evidence that he would receive custody in the event of his release, the DHS recommendation that T.F. be placed in foster care was based on a finding that “[i]n-home services will not reasonably eliminate the risk of harm to [T.F.], because ... [Mr. Fields] is incarcerated.” The government argues that Mr. Fields “has never had custody of or responsibility for his daughter” because she was born less than two months before he was incarcerated. In response, Mr. Fields argues forcefully that he feels “fatherly love” towards T.F., and the Court notes that the Juvenile Court authorized telephone contact between T.F. and Mr. Fields in its initial shelter care hearing, which points to an existing relationship between father and daughter. The Court will not conclude that the fact that Mr. Fields has been imprisoned for most of his daughter's life constitutes an abdication of his parental rights. … This determination is not based on any finding that Mr. Fields will succeed in gaining full custody of his daughter. In some instances, it may be clear that the defendant is the only caregiver available for their child. However, in a case such as this one where legal incapacitation of a previous caregiver has resulted in ongoing removal proceedings and the defendants seeks compassionate release to participate in those proceedings, any placement determination will necessarily be based on factors outside of the scope of this motion. The Court strongly weighs the fact that even if the motion for compassionate release were denied, Mr. Fields would be released within a few months. However, those few months could prove critical to the custody determinations, and Mr. Fields has a compelling interest in participating in these proceedings even if the resulting placement arrangements ordered by the Juvenile Court do not result in Mr. Fields obtaining custody of his daughter. This Court will not presume to decide what is in the best interests of Mr. Fields's daughter; the law properly places that determination in the hands of the Juvenile Court. Because this Court cannot make such a determination, an assurance of custody cannot be the only basis for compassionate release where the caregiver of a defendant's minor children suffers legal incapacitation. Instead, the question before this Court is whether the circumstances present an extraordinary and compelling reason for the modification of Mr. Fields's sentence. Here, Mr. Fields seeks compassionate release to participate in ongoing removal proceedings in Juvenile Court and to strengthen his legal and material capacity to care for his daughter. He argues that the alleged abuse of his daughter by her previous caregiver, her current temporary placement in a foster care facility, and the active status of her Juvenile Court case present extraordinary and compelling reasons to reduce his sentence so that he can assert his right to support and care for his daughter. This Court agrees.”


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.

16 views0 comments