Patrick Jones, a federal inmate in Louisiana, was looking forward to a second chance at life by appealing his drug-trafficking sentence.
Unfortunately, he never got that chance because on March 28th he became the first federal prisoner to die of the coronavirus. Jones, 49, was the first of five prisoners at FCI Oakdale Federal Prison to pass away from complications of COVID-19, according to The Marshall Report.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons stated in a press release that Jones was diagnosed with the virus after being taken to a local hospital on March 19th. He was placed on a ventilator the next day as his health continued to decline. The press release stated Jones had pre-existing conditions.
As of Wednesday, 15 people at FCI Oakdale, including 11 inmates and four staff members, have tested positive with COVID-19, as per The New York Times. The facility is a low-security prison that is populated by less than 1,000 inmates.
Jones was sentenced in 2007 to 27 years for possession of crack cocaine with intent to sell in Temple, Texas. Since his crime wasn’t violent, he filed a motion for an early release under the 2018 First Step Act. The sentence was based mostly on the prosecution claiming he was in possession of 425.1 grams of crack, according to testimony from his wife. However, that amount of drugs was never found.
A judge denied the request for early release and Jones, who said he had not seen his son since he was three years old, made a vow to appeal. “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.”
Hopefully, this story’s sad outcome will show the justice system what not to do in the future.