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Washington Court Grants Compassionate Release

Young was sentenced to 60 months of incarceration for a heroin case in 2019. In 2020 he filed a motion for compassionate release stating that he is at high risk of death if he catches COVID-19.

United States vs Young, 3:19-cr-05055-BHS

Young was sentenced to 60 months of incarceration for a heroin case in 2019. In 2020 he filed a motion for compassionate release stating that he is at high risk of death if he catches COVID-19. Young was at Lompoc.

The government responded in part by arguing that Young had not waited 30 days from his request to the warden. Specifically the government stated that there was no record of Young’s request in the BOP database. Young submitted an email to his counsel stating that he submitted his paperwork to the warden on April 12, 2020. On May 14, Young attached a letter that he asserted was the letter that he wrote to the warden asking for a release.

In making the decision, the court noted that Young submitted a copy of the letter that he claimed was sent to the warden on April 10, 2020. The government countered with a declaration stating that the prison database “contains no record of [Young] having submitted any request for compassionate release.” The court stated “Confronted with the apparently conflicting evidence, the Court credits Young’s representation, which is based on direct knowledge rather than failure to confirm the existence of a filing from over a month ago. Therefore, the Court concludes that Young has established this prerequisite for relief.”

The court determined that Young was at Lompoc complex, “Despite the best efforts of prison officials and employees constructing and implementing a pandemic response plan, over 70% of the inmates at Lompoc have been infected with COVID-19.” The court also noted that Young’s hypertension and chronic kidney disease meant that he was at risk for severe illness, complication or death if he were to contract the virus. The court determined that he had established both extraordinary and compelling reasons to warrant a reduction.

In determining whether he posed a danger to society or others, the court looked at “the nature and circumstances of Young’s underlying offense, the weight of evidence against him, his history and characteristics, and the nature and seriousness of the danger his or her release would pose to any person or the community.” The court also noted that they must balance Young’s history with his current circumstances. The court noted that Young’s record showed a battle with drug addiction. “Thus, the main danger Young presents is possessing and distributing drug again. In light of Young’s advanced age and health problems, the Court finds that this danger is minimal. This danger can also be reduced by imposing appropriate conditions of release, as set forth below. Moreover, Young is well aware of the fact that if he does commit another crime, the Court will most likely remand Young to custody.

Finally, the court looked at the 3553(a) factors to determine if they warranted a reduction. The court determined that “[t]he relevant factors include (i) “the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant”; (ii) the need for the sentence imposed to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense; to adequately deter criminal conduct; to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant; and to provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner; (iii) “the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct”; (iv) the sentencing guidelines; and (iv) “the need to provide restitution to any victims of the offense.” 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).” While the court noted that “the reduction of a five-year sentence to approximately one year of time served would create a sentence disparity and undermine the purpose of the sentencing guidelines, and releasing Young now will clearly frustrate the purpose of deterrence, both general and specific[,]” The court also noted that the “the facts relating to the factor “to provide the defendant with needed . . . medical care in the most effective manner” have dramatically shifted since sentencing. Now, this factor has much greater weight when balancing it with the other factors.” The court also stated “In some respects, home confinement will result in less freedom of movement than he would have in a prison environment that offers large recreational areas and educational opportunities.”

The court granted Young’s compassionate release. The court reduced his sentence to time served. Also, “[t]he Court impose[d] a term of supervised release consistent with the maximum
term possible but no longer than the unserved portion of the original term of Imprisonment; and the term of supervised release [was to] include the condition of home confinement.”

United States vs Young, 3:19-cr-05055-BHS

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