On Thursday August 6, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Judge Lorna G. Schofield) granted immediate compassionate release to MSF’s pro bono client Juan Oliver Ramirez due to the dangers posed by the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Mr. Ramirez was represented by MSF Of Counsel Ilana Haramati under the Criminal Justice Act. Although Mr. Ramirez had nearly five years left on his 72-month sentence for a single non-violent drug transaction, Ms. Haramati convinced the S.D.N.Y. that because he suffers from serious underlying health conditions, the unmitigated spread of COVID-19 in the federal prisons posed an imminent mortal danger to Mr. Ramirez. In ordering Mr. Ramirez’s immediate release from federal custody, the court found that his “compromised health conditions, taken in concert with the COVID-19 public health crisis, constitute an extraordinary and compelling reason” for his release. The court rejected the prosecutor’s argument that Mr. Ramirez was ineligible for compassionate release because he had served less than 20% of his sentence, and instead credited Ms. Haramati’s argument that the danger COVID-19 posed to her client outweighed any penal interest in his continued incarceration. The court found that: “although [Mr. Ramirez] has not served a majority of his sentence, the sentencing factors do not override the high risk of severe illness or death posed by COVID-19.”
Congratulations to Ilana Haramati in securing her client’s release from prison five years prior to the end of his sentence.