A month after he was denied early release after serving 13 years in prison for a nonviolent drug offense, a man died from coronavirus.
In 2007, authorities discovered 19 grams of crack and 21 grams of cocaine in the apartment of Patrick Jones, 49 in Temple, Texas. His wife was also arrested but spared jail time after she agreed to testify against him. Since they lived near a junior college and Jones had a lengthy record, he was sentenced to 27 years in prison.
A glimmer of hope came when Jones found out about the First Step Act, which offered a chance for a sentence reduction. In October, he wrote a letter to U.S. District Judge Alan Albright to plead his case. Jones described how he changed his life and his desire to ensure his 16-year-old son did not go down the wrong path.
Patrick Jones died a month after he was denied early release for a non-violent drug offense. Jones served 13 years of a 27 year sentence. (Photo: Jones Family)“My child having his own experience of raising his own child would validate my life experience and give meaning to my existence in this world, because 83582-180 has no meaning,” he wrote.
“It is just a number to be forgotten in time. But Mr. Patrick Estell Jones is a very good person. Caring, hard-working, free and clean of drugs and a lot smarter now, with a balanced outlook on life.”
Albright denied Jones’ request on Feb. 26, 2020, and he was dead about a month later, on March 28. He was incarcerated at FCI Oakdale I prison in Louisiana. Jones was the first federal prisoner to die from COVID-19 in the country, reported The Daily Beast. Four more FCI inmates and two at FCI Elkton 1 in Oklahoma met the same fate.
Last Friday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued an emergency order requiring vulnerable inmates to be released into home confinement.
“For all inmates whom you deem suitable candidates for home confinement, you are directed to immediately process them for transfer and then immediately transfer them following a 14-day quarantine,” Barr said in a press release.
The same day, the Bureau of Prisons said 91 inmates and 50 staff members at 122 facilities have been diagnosed with the virus.
A $2 trillion stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump included a provision that would loosen the requirements for release into home confinement. Before the stimulus, only prisoners who had served 90 percent of their sentence or had less than six months left in prison were eligible.