Black man, denied early release, becomes first federal inmate to die of coronavirus

Jones, 49, sought an appeal of his decades-long drug sentence when he was diagnosed with the deadly virus in March.

Patrick Jones, 49, became the first person to die in federal prison of coronavirus.

Patrick Jones, a federal inmate in Louisiana, was looking to get a second chance at life by appealing his drug-trafficking sentence. That all ended on March 28th when he became the first federal prisoner to die of coronavirus.

Jones, 49, was the first of five prisoners at FCI Oakdale I 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 19.

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He was placed on a ventilator the following day as his health sharply declined. The 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, The New York Times reported. The facility is a low-security prison that holds less than 1,000 inmates.

Jones had been sentenced in 2007 to 27 years for possession of crack cocaine with intent to sell in Temple, Texas. Being that his crime wasn’t of a violent nature, He had been attempting an early release under the 2018 First Step Act. The sentence was based largely on the prosecution claiming he has possessed 425.1 grams of crack, via 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, vowed to appeal.

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“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.”

As of Saturday morning, more than 278,500 people in the United States have contracted the fast-spreading virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.