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Keeping a man awaiting trial behind bars even after he contracted coronavirus - and then recovered - is not 'cruel and unusual' punishment, judge rules

A federal judge ruled today that Alvin "King Humble" Mojica of Worcester is too much of a flight risk to release on cocaine-distribution charges that could net him more than 10 years in prison and ordered him kept locked up pending his trial.

Mojica, a Worcester man arrested as part of a crackdown on Massachusetts branch of the Latin Kings gang, had sought to be released on bail to await trial because he contracted Covid-19 while locked up at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island. His lawyer argued that his continued detention violated his 14th-Amendment right against "cruel and unusual punishment."

But US District Court Judge Rya Zobel ruled today that the government provided sufficient evidence that the privately run facility had done the best it could to minimize the odds of inmates coming down with the virus - and that Mojica has since recovered.

The conditions at the Wyatt Detention Facility are rationally related to the legitimate government interests of ensuring the health of the detainees by containing spread of the virus while ensuring the defendant’s appearance at trial.

Since March, federal judges have heard a number of cases from inmates and people awaiting trial that the should be granted a "compassionate release" because of the risk of contracting Covid-19 behind bars. The judges have only granted such releases to people who have serious underlying conditions that would put them at higher risk of death from the virus and who would not pose a threat to the community or a high risk of flight if released. Everybody else has had their requests rejected.

Zobel also rejected Mojica's assertion that even aside from that, he was not really dangerous enough to warrant keeping detained without bail.

Defendant’s criminal background stretches back many years and includes several drug and firearm offenses, significant committed time, and many probation violations. Indeed, Defendant was on probation when he committed the alleged transaction in this case and still faces charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in the Worcester District Court. The violence of that open case, captured on video, is also extremely troubling.

Innocent, etc.

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Comments

Does being a suspected cocaine dealer come with a health plan? I'm pretty sure he got better health care in jail than he would have on the street. He and his attorneys should concentrate on beating the case instead of an escape plan. El Chapo he ain't.

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Survival rate 100%
Hospitalization rate 0%

This might be a viable treatment!

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