76-Year-Old Woman Celebrates Release From Prison After Missing Call From Probation Officer While In Computer Class
The 76-year-old praised God for being released but said there's still more work to be done.
July 09, 2021 at 4:48 pm
Update (July 9, 2021): Gwen Levi, a 76-year-old woman who was sent back to prison last month because she missed a phone call from her probation officers, is celebrating being a free woman.
"If He can do it for me, He can do it for more," Levi said shortly after being released. "I just want everyone to know I thank them for all you did for me and know we still got work to do for others left behind."
Levi was previously accused of violating the terms of her release when she missed a call from her probation officers. The elderly woman has now been granted a compassionate release by a federal judge while her sentence has been reduced to time served, USA TODAY reported.
Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, said it was shameful to send the woman back to prison for missing a phone call while attending a computer class for a few hours.
“She deserves to be home. But the fight is far from over. It's time for the Biden administration to ensure that the 4,000 people on home confinement get to stay home with their families, too," Ring said, advocating for those who were released last year in an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus among prisoners.
Gwen Levi's heartwarming reaction to being released from jail and also her message to her many supporters. pic.twitter.com/mrhcsINt3W— Ray Strickland (@realraystrick) July 7, 2021
U.S. District Judge Deborah C. Chasanow, who handed the ruling on Tuesday, said the 76-year-old has done well on home confinement.
"During her incarceration, she took many courses, worked, and completed drug education," Chasanow wrote.
The judge also said "it would do little" to issue a severe punishment against Levi who's in remission from lung cancer and whom the Justice Department had declared nonviolent.
“Because of her release to home confinement, the most pressing initial concerns (COVID, age, and health) were addressed,” Judge Chasanow wrote in her opinion. “The court concludes that it would do little (if anything) to serve the goals of sentencing to require her to return to full custody.”
Levi’s lawyer, Sapna Mirchandani of Maryland’s Office of the Federal Public Defender, said the Baltimore resident will report to a probation officer for five years and can request early termination of supervision after one year, the Atlanta Black Star reported.
Original (June 28, 2021): A 76-year-old woman was sent back to prison because her probation officials couldn’t contact her for a few hours, the Washington Post reports. The woman had been in a computer class.
Gwen Levi qualified as one of the 4,500 federal inmates who were released early from prison because of a nationwide effort to release some incarcerated individuals to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among prison populations. But now, Levi's back in custody because of a miscommunication with her supervising officials.
This is 76 yr old Gwen Levy who was returned to prison for not answering a call from her federal probation officer while in this computer class. They told her lawyer, “because she could have been robbing a bank, [we’re] going to treat her as if she was robbing a bank.” pic.twitter.com/sJvo9I5fVo— Dyjuan Tatro (@DyjuanTatro) June 27, 2021
According to reports, Levi was attending a computer-processing class in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. During her time in class, it was discovered at 10:51 a.m. that she was not home by tracking done on her ankle monitor. After not responding to calls for a few hours, her monitor revealed that she was back at her mother’s home at 1:17 p.m. The Bureau of Prisons defined the incident on their report as an “escape.”
She's now in a Washington, D.C. jail awaiting a transfer to a federal facility, her attorney Sapna Mirchandani told The Post.
“There’s no question she was in class,” Mirchandani said. “As I was told because she could have been robbing a bank, they’re going to treat her as if she was robbing a bank.”
Kristie A. Breshears, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons, told The Post that the bureau staff has the authority to decide if a former prisoner should be sent back to “secure custody.” Additionally, when the pandemic is over, the Bureau of Prisons can decide to release prisoners to home confinement if they’re nearing the end of their sentences.
“I feel like I was attempting to do all the right things,” Levi said in a statement through her attorney. “Breaking rules is not who I am. I tried to explain what happened, and to tell the truth. At no time did I think I wasn’t supposed to go to that class. I apologize to my mother and my family for what this is doing to them.”
Levi said she was “devastated.”
In 2004, she was charged with conspiracy to sell at least one kilogram of heroin, as part of a drug enterprise that operated in Maryland, D.C, California, New York, Texas and Wyoming per NBC News. She pled guilty on April 19, 2005, to the drug conspiracy and was sentenced on Oct. 6, 2006, to 35 years in prison. In different facilities in Maryland, Texas, and Alabama, she served 16 years of a 24-year sentence.
After being released to home confinement, she moved back to Baltimore with her 94-year-old mother where she volunteered at prison advocacy organizations, with hopes of gaining employment.
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