District of Columbia District Grants 3582 Relief to COVID-19 Positive Inmate: US. vs. Huntley
In US vs. Huntley, Case 1:13-cr-00119-ABJ, the District of Columbia granted 3582 Compassionate Release relief to a COVID-19 Positive Inmate.
Huntley had been found guilty of “one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of powder cocaine and 280 grams or more of cocaine base” and was sentenced to a term of 120 months in prison. Huntley was serving his sentence at Butner 1 Medium. He indicated that he sought the reduction because he suffers from a spinal cord injury and other health conditions and because these conditions put him at increased risk of death from COVID-19. He filed a “Notice of 4 Inmate Deaths at Butner Medium I FCI” on April 13, 2020 and on April 30, he filed a supplement to his reply indicating that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
The record showed that Huntley was a paraplegic and suffered a spinal cord injury in a 2008 motorcycle accident. He did physical therapy and was able to stand for a limited period of time but for the most part, he is confined to a wheelchair. Huntley also was experiencing severe numbness and pain in huis from his peripheral neuropathy, back spasms, open sores, crusting and open wounds, and a hypertension diagnosis. The government’s response in opposition indicated that Huntley had previously been convicted of “distribution of cocaine in 1992, attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in 1994, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in 2006.”
The parties agreed that Huntley exhausted his administrative remedies and that his motion was properly before the court.
As a reminder, the court noted that 18 USC 3582 and USSG 1B1.13(1)(A) combine to say that a person can receive a reduction in sentence if they have “extraordinary and compelling reasons [that] warrant such a reduction,” if the “defendant is not a danger to the safety of any other person or to the community,” and if “such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.”
The types of “extraordinary and compelling reasons that would satisfy the statute” included:
(I) suffering from a serious physical or medical condition,
(II) suffering from a serious functional or cognitive impairment, or
(III) experiencing deteriorating physical or mental health because of the aging process
that substantially diminishes the ability of the defendant to provide self-care within the environment of a correctional facility and from which he or she is not expected to recover.
Huntley asserted that his spinal cord injury and other conditions present sufficient reasons to reduce his sentence under the statute. The court indicated that the reports from the government indicate that the “defendant’s condition has deteriorated: he can only accomplish two out of six Activities of Daily Living at this time.” They also indicate that Huntley has not received specific medical assessments or accommodations recommended by various specialists. The court also noted that the BOP’s 2019 denials do not address the current dangers of COVID-19. Specifically, the court noted spinal cord injury as a neurological and neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions that could increase the risk of serious COVID-29 for individuals of any age per the CDC. The court stressed that the ruling was not predicated on the presence of the virus within the BOP “in and of itself,” it was based on this defendant’s specific conditions and characteristics and when taken together the court determined his medical conditions coupled with his now-diagnosed COVID-19 constitute “extraordinary and compelling circumstances.”
The court went on to note that Huntley was convicted of a serious offense and sentenced to a lengthy term of incarceration and supervised release but he has already served a significant portion of that sentence [according to the defendant, he had served 7 years excluding the good time]. The court determined that 7 years was “sufficient to punish the defendant, reflect the seriousness of the offense, and deter future criminal conduct, and it is further persuaded that release is appropriate given that defendant is little more than a year away from release to home confinement.” Similarly, Huntley was no longer a danger to the community given the deterioration of his physical abilities and his relatively good conduct since he has been inside the prison [he had one shot for possession of a cell phone].
The court granted the defendant’s motion as to his prison sentence. The court left his supervised release untouched. The court indicated that order would biome effective after Huntley had been quarantined for 14 days “and it has been determined by medical personnel, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, that he no longer requires medical isolation precautions.”
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