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Monday, April 6, 2020

Black Inmate Becomes 1st to Die in Federal Prison From COVID-19, Was Denied Early Release

Patrick Jones, first inmate to die from Coronavirus

Oakdale, LA — Patrick Jones, a 49-year old inmate from Louisiana, is reportedly the first person to die in a federal prison from COVID-19. He contracted the virus in prison and died from it not even two years after having his appeal denied for a non-violent drug-trafficking sentence.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Jones tested positive for the Coronavirus when he was taken to a local hospital on March 19. He was placed on a ventilator the next day as his health continued to decline, worsened by his underlying health condition.

Jones was one of 15 people — 11 inmates and 4 staff members — who were infected at FCI Oakdale, a low-security prison that holds less than 1,000 inmates, the New York Times reported.

Jones was convicted in 2007 for possession of crack cocaine and was sentenced to 27 years. The crime was of violent nature and the amount of drugs claimed he has possessed was actually not found.

So he tried to appeal for an early release under the 2018 First Step Act, but a judge denied the request.

“He was killed before coronavirus killed him, because that sentence was absurd,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums advocacy group. “His case is exactly the type of case we’ll need to grapple with.”

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