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Patrick Jones served nearly half of a 30-year term for a non-violent drug conviction. He wrote a heartbreaking letter to a judge pleading with him to let him out so he could spend time with his wayward 16-year-old son.

Jones was sentenced to serve his time at the Federal Correctional Institute in Oakdale, Louisiana when his son was a baby.

Jones begged for a second chance to prove to the teenager and to society that he was more than just a number. "It is just a number to be forgotten in time," Jones wrote in a letter dated October 15.

The 49-year-old described himself as a "very good person. Caring, hardworking, free and clean of drugs and a lot smarter now, with a balanced outlook on life."

Just two days before Jones died of a reported coronavirus-related illness, Attorney General William Barr wrote a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons' Director Michael Carvajal instructing him to transfer non-violent, at-risk inmates to home confinement.

Prison reform activists say Jones's plea was ignored because he is Black.

Similar requests for compassionate release were made by other Black inmates and detainees, including singer R. Kelly and rapper YNW Melly, who claims he is dying from coronavirus in a Florida jail where he is awaiting trial on double murder charges.

Both Kelly and Melly's requests were denied.

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Jones and other non-violent inmates who died in prison during the coronavirus outbreak.

"There is no time to spare," says the lawsuit.