This post is a continuation of a breaking news story found under Case Results on my Website relating to my Motion on behalf of Alexandra Slovkovic’s Request for Compassionate Release.
At approximately the same time I entered the Motion on behalf of my client Alexandra Slovkovic, Correctional officers at the federal women’s prison in Tallahassee filed a complaint in reference to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The officers filed what’s known as an “Imminent Danger Report” with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (USOSHA). The USOSHA is the federal agency that oversees and enforces workplace safety. Simply stated the mid-April complaint specified that the actions and non-action taken by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) are increasing the capacity for the spread of the potentially deadly contagion.
At the time the complaint was recorded one Correctional officer had tested positive for the coronavirus and three other employees were quarantined. Additionally, one inmate had been awaiting test results as of the time the complaint was documented.
On the date of the writing of this article (May 17, 2020), there are close to 2300 federal inmates and 283 Bureau of Prisons staff nationwide who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Currently, 1950 inmates and 287 staff have recovered. 56 federal inmates have died attributed to COVID-19 disease although at least currently no employee deaths have been reported.
Client Case History
On January 17, 2017, the Court sentenced Ms. Slovkovic to 168 months imprisonment and lifetime supervised release for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. Later in that month, the Judge sentenced Ms. Slovkovic to two additional years of imprisonment for failure to appear. The second decision to be served consecutive to original sentence.
At the time of the rulings Ms. Slovkovic was 56 years of age and is currently incarcerated at the Tallahassee Federal Correctional Institution.
Her projected release date was July 23, 2024. Or a little more than three years from the writing of this article.
Consideration of the Court
In rendering its decision the court took into consideration the health risks Ms. Slovkovic, now 59 years of age would face by possible COVID-19 exposure and how it would be minimized by her immediate release to home confinement. If the court granted the motion Ms. Slovkovic would agree to self-quarantine. In the court’s judgement her continued exposure to the large population of her incarceration in federal prison over the near term could impose further, needless health dangers which would be reduced by early release based on the Motion.
The Court acknowledged it was grievously aware of the current global health emergency caused by coronavirus and was assured that Ms. Slovkovic would return to her residence located in North Bay Village, Florida which is a two bedroom condominium with two bathrooms with a separate entrance for her to enter. The condominium which she presently owns is being rented by a tenant who agreed to directly vacate the premises upon Ms. Slovkovic’s release for the purpose of social distancing.
The U.S. Probation Office has deemed the dwelling suitable and has spoken with the current tenant who has agreed that he and Ms. Slovkovic have reached an arrangement where he would rent one of the bedrooms and baths located in the apartment immediately upon Ms. Slovkovic’s release.
The Court also took into consideration that states and localities across the country have on their own executed procedures to hinder the swift spread of the disease. And while the Court is cognizant of the measures taken by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the spread of the virus in federal detention centers and prisons throughout the country determines that persons housed within the prison systems continue to be particularly susceptible to the contagion.
In its final determination the court concluded the that the sentence reduction is consistent with the Sentencing Commission’s relevant policy statement where “extraordinary and compelling” reasons merit the reduction and the defendant is “not a danger to any person or to the community“.
Accordingly although Slovkovic’s offense was profoundly serious, the Motion is GRANTED, and her sentence of imprisonment is reduced to time served Her sentence of lifetime supervised release will still be attached.
The complaint filed by the Correctional officers has since boiled over since weeks of requests from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), a labor union, for the supply of PPE such as masks and gloves to protect the employees from the conditions within the prison. The employees charge that they were supplied with what they have determined are what they call counterfeit N95 masks. N95 masks are the standard set by OSHA for use in federal prisons and other institutions, meaning they block at least 95 percent of exceedingly small particles, including viruses.
An FCI correctional officer said he became apprehensive of the mask he was given to wear when he was tasked with the transport a prisoner. He said the mask he was provided with lacked the label and design that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says an authentic mask should display.
“None of the labels, logos, the lot number, the inspection number … none of that stuff was on there,” said the correctional officer, who is also president of AFGE Local. Local 1570 represents approximately 200 officers and staff at the prison.
He accused the parties that be of not checking the legitimacy of the masks to make sure they were real or came from a credible vendor. He went on to state that “from what I found out, they came from some Chinese company… We spent thousands of dollars; it makes no sense,” he added.
The Bureau of Prisons said it has responded to several inquiries from OSHA concerning COVID-19 situation.
“Working with OSHA and the union are two important opportunities the BOP has to evaluate efforts to keep staff safe and to mitigate risks associated with COVID-19,” said a spokesman for the BOP.
To read the complete NOTICE OF FILING AND REQUEST FOR RULING in this case please click here.