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.
YNW Melly (left) has tested positive for the coronavirus at the Broward County jail, where he is being held on double murder charges.
The 20-year-old rapper, real name Jamell Demons, filed for early release a day after a New York judge released rapper Tekashi69 on house arrest.
Melly was arrested last February on two counts of first-degree murder in the October 2018 shooting deaths of aspiring rappers YNW Juvy (Christopher Thomas Jr.), 19, and YNW Sakchaser (Anthony Williams), 21.
In a statement, Melly's legal team said they hoped his release from jail will allow the rapper to find "better care due to any jails not being prepared to treat this new virus."
Melly is not likely to be released due to the seriousness of his charges. He is facing the death penalty.
Tekashi69's lawyer also cited his health (he reportedly has asthma) in his request to a judge to release the troubled rapper from a federal lockup, where he served 13 months for federal RICO and weapons charges.
It isn't clear if the judge imposed any Internet or social media restrictions on Tekashi, 23, who will be on house arrest with an ankle monitor for the next four months.
YNW Melly's father, Donte "tha Gift" Taylor, dropped an emotional song defending the rapper who is locked up in Florida on double murder charges.
In the song, Donte said Melly didn't kill his friend. He regrets not being there for most of his son's childhood. "It was out of my hands," he said.
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At barely 5-feet-2 inches and 110 pounds, rap newcomer YNW Melly is not an imposing figure in his mugshots. Before he was arrested for double murder, the 19-year-old Florida rapper surrounded himself with grimy gangsters-turned-rap wannabes who were born and raised in the same small town he called home in South Florida.
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