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October 18, 2021: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE and BOP COVID-19 BLOG




Quick Facts (Full BOP Stats can be found here) Currently positive-testing inmates: 259 (unchanged) Currently positive-testing staff: 450 (down from 468) Recovered inmates: 42,956 (down 42,972) Recovered staff: 7,991 (up from 7,961)


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

Three Rivers FCI: 40 (unchanged)

Phoenix FCI: 33 (unchanged)

Terre Haute USP: 22 (up from 21)

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

Oakdale I FCI: 27 (unchanged)

Phoenix FCI: 27 (unchanged)

Forrest City Medium: 19

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 132,281federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 14,531 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 123,263 (up from 123,189) Positive tests: 42,767 (down from 42,780)


Total vaccine doses administered: 233,740 (up from 232,200)

News Note: Compassionate release comes a day late for Rikers inmate.


This is a federal blog but we thought it important to acknowledge the recent death of Rikers Island detainee Victor Mercado, 64, who died at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens the same day the court granted his compassionate release application, after he had been stuck at Rikers because he could not afford bail. As reported in the The Gothamist Daily:


A Bronx man who had been detained at Rikers Island died on Friday, the same day a judge granted him an emergency conditional release, his attorney said Saturday. His death, the 13th this year in the city's jails, comes as advocates continue to sound the alarm on dangerous conditions at the jail complex.


Victor Mercado, 64, died at Elmhurst Hospital after being held at the Rikers infirmary from the time he was detained in the summer, his attorney, James A. Kilduff, said. Kilduff said Mercado had contracted COVID-19 while inside. That claim was corroborated by a medical staffer at Rikers, who requested anonymity so they can speak freely about Mercado.


“He got COVID while in jail, where rates continue to be higher than they are in the community, [and the] set up for viral spread is still very bad," said the staffer. "And then because he had relevant risk factors, he got very sick pretty quickly.” ...


It's a tragedy that that happened because he now is deceased only because his family couldn't afford to secure his release," Kilduff told Gothamist/WNYC.


Kilduff, who began representing Mercado after his initial court appearance, attempted to convince a judge to release Mercado, citing his health conditions. In September, Kilduff appeared before a judge virtually to convince them to have an in-person hearing to see firsthand Mercado's conditions as evidence for release. Mercado had been confined to a wheelchair and was considered overweight. It's unclear what kind of care Mercado had been receiving while staying at Rikers' infirmary unit.


"I didn't want to proceed virtually because I knew my client had health conditions that I think would be better represented if he appeared in person as opposed to being seen on a video monitor," Kilduff said.


The case was adjourned to September 27th. Kilduff, appearing in person with Mercado, argued that Mercado should be released on lower bail the family could afford, but was denied. Mercado was then sent back to the Rikers infirmary unit. Another medical staffer, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said conditions at the unit were dangerous.


Several days later, Mercado was taken to Elmhurst Hospital for an unknown condition. During a phone call, Kilduff said Mercado did not sound well.


"He sounded kind of hoarse and he was like, 'Jim, you gotta help me. You got to get me out here,'" Kilduff recalled, later adding "he was frightened."


Kilduff called the Bronx District Attorney's Office explaining that an emergency compassionate release application should be filed on behalf of Mercado due to his condition. Kilduff was granted a noon hearing, and a judge approved the emergency compassionate release application. But it was too late.

Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announcing BOP COVID-related deaths is located here.) The inmate death toll has risen by one, to 263. Ten of these inmates died while on home confinement. Staff deaths have increased to 7.


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