Former Mobile County Commissioner and convicted sex offender Freeman Jockisch is asking a judge to release him from a 10-year federal prison sentence early because his age and pre-existing medical conductions place him at an elevated risk of serious complications from COVID-19.
Jockisch, who spent 11 years as a county commissioner, was arrested in 2013 undercover police sting after traveling to meet a girl he believed to be 15 years old. He was found guilty of attempting to lure a child for unlawful sex in 2014 and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
After serving more than half his sentence, Jockisch petitioned the court for a compassionate release in June after the warden at the Federal Correctional Institution in Coleman, Fla. (Coleman Low), denied a similar request earlier this year. According to his affidavit, the 75-year-old grew concerned about occupying a facility that has more cases of COVID-19 among inmates than any other federal prison in the country.
“The relief I am asking for will save my life. If I remain at Coleman Low, there is a high likelihood that I will contract the virus despite the Bureau of Prisons’ continuing assertions that it is doing all it can to prevent the spread,” Jockisch wrote. “I can attest that whatever it is they are doing, it’s not working.”
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP), 182 inmates and 21 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at Coleman; more than 40 new cases have been reported since July 25; and one inmate has died already. To put that in perspective, the federal facility with the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases is in Miami and only 87 of its inmates have tested positive, according to FBOP.
In his petition, Jockisch notes the recommended “six-foot social distancing is impossible” in Coleman and claimed many staff members and officers have continued to interact with prisoners without personal protective equipment like face masks even though “they are the ones in contact with the public.”
Because cell phones and cameras are not allowed, Jockisch also submitted hand-drawn sketches of his bunk area as well as the cafeteria and phone bank at Coleman. Another drawing shows an area Jockisch said was taped off for days with a sign reading, “Warning! COVID-19 presence.”
Documents in the case indicate FBOP believes it’s taken the necessary precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus at Coleman and all its facilities across the U.S. However, Jockisch argues those efforts have been futile and points to the FBOP’s own reporting about cases inside Coleman as proof.
Jockisch claims to suffer from coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and other medical conditions that would likely lead to significant complications were he to become infected with COVID-19. Given his lack of disciplinary issues in prison, he has maintained to the court he would pose little threat to the public if he was released early from his decade-long sentence.
“I have completed programs, taken classes and am now employed by [a prison work program],” Jockisch wrote in his affidavit. “These activities have furthered my rehabilitation and show that I am amenable to rehabilitation and will comply with any special conditions of release the court might deem appropriate.”
So far, the U.S. government has not officially responded to Jockisch’s petition. A hearing to consider his request is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Callie “Ginny” Granade later this month.
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