U.S. District Court Grants Compassionate Release for Defendant Due to Medical Conditions, Including Suspected Dementia

Above: U.S. Courthouse in Sherman, Texas. (Wikipedia)

A United States District Court in Texas granted the compassionate release of James Oscar Jones on December 10, 2020. Jones has experienced many medical issues while incarcerated, including suspected dementia.

Jones pleaded guilty to the mailing, transportation, and shipping of child pornography in February of 2010. He was sentenced to 168 months (14 years) imprisonment. Jones filed a motion for release in April 2020, arguing that his age combined with his medical conditions made him “more vulnerable to COVID-19 than the average citizen.”

Jones has had several medical problems while incarcerated, including chronic lymphoid leukemia, a heart attack, stroke-like symptoms, and edema of his lower extremities. He also “appeared to struggle with his memory” and was “slow to respond to questioning” and thus had been referred for neurological and psychological testing, with doctors suspecting dementia. The U.S. District Court acknowledged the severity of Jones’ crime yet also acknowledged that his “current physical and neurological conditions mitigate the threat he currently poses to the community.”

The court found that “COVID-19 is not a basis for a sentence reduction” but found that Jones’ age and medical conditions did meet the requirements for a sentence reduction because he had served at least 75 percent of his sentence. The court therefore granted Jones’ motion for compassionate release and ordered that he be released in 30 days to a halfway house for 180 days and begin his 5-year term of supervised release.

Key words: Texas, COVID-19, memory, dementia, neurological conditions, compassionate release

Citation: United States v. Jones, 2020 WL 7261090

This post is the 63rd post as part of an ongoing Center for Law, Brain & Behavior (CLBB) series tracking the latest developments in law and neuroscience cases. To see previous posts about recent cases, see the full case archive on the CLBB website. To see updates on legal scholarship, see the Neurolaw News, hosted by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience. This project is made possible through support of the Dana Foundation.

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at Mass General Hospital, Harvard Medical School

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