Violin Young Bird, a 52-year-old federal prisoner with severe kidney disease, did not give up in June following his request for compassionate release due to the Covid-19 dangers.
He wrote a letter to his judge the same week requesting mercy. Then another day or two later.
“I’m rewriting because at about 10 o’clock this morning, an inmate next to me said, ‘He’s here, Chief.'” Wrote the Native American Young Bird of South Dakota.
“It is now official that the first case of coronavirus is at a medical center here in Springfield, Mo.,”
Young Bird was imprisoned in the facility from September 2019 on an 11-year sentence for methamphetamine distribution. The institution has about 840 inmates with serious medical problems.
As the summer dragged on and the coronavirus spread to Central America, the Young Bird U.S. He continued to write letters to District Judge Roberto Lang.
On June 14, he wrote that he feared the virus would soon spread, he did not want to die behind the severity and he wanted to see his disabled sister and her four children, “who need me.”
Aug Gust. On the same day, he told the judge that his “aunt mom” John Young Bird had died and that he wanted to attend her funeral.
And finally, in a letter dated October 28, he wrote that dozens of prisoners in his unit had tested positive, but he was, so far, one of the lucky ones.
“I’m afraid I’ll get an infection when you read this letter,” he wrote. “Please, as a compassionate judge, can you help me through this situation?”
The next day the Young Bird tested positive for the virus. He died exactly a week later, according to the Bureau Pr Prison.
One of his daughters, Cassina Brewer, 26, said, “I find it very difficult to understand. “I think it has been ignored.”
Three other inmates at the Springfield facility died the same day as Young Bird. At least seven people have been infected with the virus this month alone, according to the Bureau Pr Prison.
Experts say such an epidemic in a federal organization represents a nightmare for the accommodation of critically ill prisoners.
Former Chief Medical Officer of New York City, Dr. “We have very weak people in one place, and my experience is that prison medical centers do not work with the level of infection control found in similar community hospitals,” said Homer Venters. Said Homer Venters, a former chief medical officer of New York City. Prison system.
“Disastrous consequences can come.”
Venters, who now works as an expert advisor on health services in remedial settings, has inspected 18 state and federal prisons since the outbreak. The Springfield facility was not among them.
He said it was important for the prison’s medical facilities to isolate infected patients and still be able to provide them with a high level of care. However, he found that prisons often provide inadequate Covid-19 screening for inmates and staff and fail to provide the necessary training and personal protective equipment to ensure a safe environment.
“These are things that were on everyone’s radar in community hospitals until April, but my experience is prison hospitals are still not working with high-level infection control and PPE, they need to protect high-risk patients,” Venters said. Added, President of Community Oriented Remedial Health Systems, a nonprofit that works to improve health care behind bars.
Attorney General William Barre this spring ordered the federal prison system to increase the use of domestic confinement and speed up the release of eligible high-risk prisoners.
The Bureau Pr Prisons has given priority to inmates who have served half of their sentence or 18 months or less with inmates and who have served at least 25 percent of their time.
Since the outbreak began, the agency has released 17,530 inmates under house arrest.
Joint prisoners can also get out of jail as soon as possible through a compassionate release, which is authorized by the judge and which reduces the time sentence. But inmates must first file a request with the warden of the institution. If a warden denies the request or a 30-day period elapses without a response, then the prisoner can apply to the judge hearing their sentence.
More than 98 percent of federal prison wardens reject or ignore compassionate release requests, according to data compiled by the Marshall Project.
“Most of the high-risk people in prison are still in prison,” Venters said.
Young Bird was not the only Springfield prisoner to refuse a request to be released from the infected facility from Covid-19. At least two other inmates who also suffered from kidney disease, Toric Liles and David Cross, died after being denied coronavirus, according to court documents.
The Bureau Pr Prison says it cannot comment on specific inmates and does not directly answer questions about the outbreak at the Springfield facility. But the agency said it has taken a number of steps to reduce the spread of the virus in its organizations and has “emerged as a corrective leader in epidemics.”
A spokesman for the prison’s medical center in Springfield did not respond to a request for comment.
The young bird was arrested in March 2018, when, during a traffic stop at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, officers found 10 grams of meth hidden in its hammock in eight bags. A federal jury convicted him of conspiracy to distribute and a count of possession with the intent to deliver methamphetamine.
Young Bird first filed for mercy in November 2019, just two months after arriving at the prison’s medical facility in Springfield. He cited a range of health problems, including kidney failure, heart failure, diabetes and asthma, court documents show.
The young bird was on dialysis for his kidney disease, his heart operated at half the normal rate and one of his toes was amputated due to diabetes, documents say.
Warden denied his request because his condition was not terminal and he was over 18 months old.
As the Covid-19 crisis worsened, Young Bird applied to the judge who sentenced him.
In the court proceedings, Young Bird’s attorney argued that his serious health conditions, developed by the Covid-19 epidemic, were tantamount to an “extraordinary and compelling reason” to reduce his sentence or impose a period of house arrest.
Until then, Young Bird had written a letter to his hometown newspaper apologizing to those from the Chain River Sioux tribe, saying “my use of drugs and alcohol has hurt me.”
Young Bird wrote, “I was intoxicated with methamphetamine (crystal meth) and alcohol, a legal drug,” Young Bird wrote. “Both are very difficult to be free, in a free world out there. I have disappointed many of my people, and expressed a lot of shame and regret.”
The government opposed his submission, saying in court papers that he still posed a risk to society. Judge Lange eventually denied the request, saying it was unclear to what extent the virus endangered the young bird’s life and that the Bureau Pr Prison “took precautions to protect him and his fellow inmates.”
Arriving for comment after Young Bird’s death, Lang said a change in circumstances would have made it more relevant to release a prisoner of the disease.
“If he had served a little more time and gotten a little more fine, I’d probably consider the pace of his tragic release differently,” Lang told NBC News.
Complicating the situation, Lang said the Sioux Tribe of the Cheyenne River had banished the young bird from its home because of the drug punishment.
“This guy can literally go out on the street, who needs dialysis, restricted by his home community,” Lange said. “My God, what do you do?”
The judge added, “I am deeply saddened by his death. It is terrible how the virus has affected prisoners in federal and state custody, and I wish the family of Mr. Young Bird all the best.”
Young Bird Lange wrote a total of 17 letters beginning in mid-March. The famous letter writer never mentioned, however, what he did shortly before his arrest.
After the death of his sister, Young Bird hosted a huge dinner in Dupree, South Dakota, to honor his memory. It ended with an extraordinary act of generosity, his family members said.
“She bought blankets, sweaters, socks, dreamcatchers – anything you could think of,” said her aunt Joe Lynn Little. “He just gave it all to the homeless people in the community. It was something I will never forget. “
After Young Bird’s death, Little Wounded wanted to do the same to honor him.
But the virus had spread to North Dakota.
There will be no big dinner. There is no exemption.
Last Saturday, about 100 family members gathered for a cemetery service, where three singers from a nearby Indian reservation sang a prayer song before the young bird’s body was brought down to the ground.