NH: Federal Bureau Of Prisons’ Misclassification Of Inmate Leads To Compassionate Release

Source: forbes.com 8/17/21

Joshua Fields (District of New Hampshire, Case No. 14-cr-074-LM) had a troubled life. His substance abuse which started at age 9 was nothing more than a path to mental health issues and brushes with the criminal justice system. After pleading guilty to charges of being a felon in possession of a weapon, and mounting up a few prior criminal offenses, Fields pled guilty and was sentenced to 180 months in prison (later reduced to 120 months under a revised law). When he was sentenced in 2014, it was the intent of U.S. District Judge Landya McCafferty (New Hampshire) that Fields not only serve his term but also get the kind of treatment he needed for his mental health and drug abuse problems. Judge McCafferty noted at his sentencing, “He needs drug treatment. He needs help . . . He will be released at some point and be on supervised release.” Fields got none of the help that he needed in prison.

The federal Bureau of Prisons classifies inmates based on a security classification system. When someone initially comes into the prison system, the BOP puts a considerable amount of weight on the Presentence Report (PSR). That report, authored by US Probation, provides an overview of the criminal case, background information on the defendant (health conditions, family situation and past criminal record) and a substantial amount of personal information. The BOP relies on this report to classify the inmate and assign a security level to determine where the defendant will spend his/her sentence … those requiring more supervision go to higher security prisons, those with lesser supervision go to minimum security. Christopher J. Angles, a criminal defense attorney (not related to Fields’ case) told me in an interview, “As lawyers we have to pay attention to everything in the PSR because errors in it can literally change the trajectory of someone’s life from one of hope to one of tragedy.”

Security level alone does not determine the security classification as the BOP can also apply what is known as a Public Safety Factor to elevate someone’s security level … one of those is for “sex offenders.” The sex offender Public Safety Factor is something used by the BOP to elevate the security level for anyone charged with a sex-related offense, making them ineligible for minimum security camp placement. In fact, it is the BOP’s discretion done to determine if the Public Safety Factor is applied. Whereas nothing in Fields’ case involved a sex offense, US Probation made a mistake in the Presentence Report by describing a past domestic incident that involved “groping.” In fact, the word “groping” was not even part of the police report of the incident, but the BOP read the Presentence Report and determined that Fields should get a sex offender Public Safety Factor. Among inmates in federal prison, sex offenders are often targeted for violence and extortion.

Fields’ life in prison was marked by beatings, isolation and diversion from programming that could have helped him turn his life around. Soon after arriving in federal prison, BOP inmates found out that he had a sex offender Public Safety Factor, something Fields told prison staff was a terrible mistake. In 2016, Fields went back to Judge McCafferty for a re-sentencing that reduced his prison term to 10 years (change of law) and disclosed the problems he had encountered as a result of the misclassification. Judge McCafferty was so troubled by the sex offender designation and Fields’ treatment in prison that she ordered a revised Presentence Report to be written that would not only strike the “groping” misstatement but expunge the entire original PSR. She also ordered the BOP to change the sex offender Public Safety Factor.

Read the full article


Related posts

Notify of

We welcome a lively discussion with all view points - keeping in mind...


  1. Your submission will be reviewed by one of our volunteer moderators. Moderating decisions may be subjective.
  2. Please keep the tone of your comment civil and courteous. This is a public forum.
  3. Swear words should be starred out such as f*k and s*t and a**
  4. Please avoid the use of derogatory labels.  Use person-first language.
  5. Please stay on topic - both in terms of the organization in general and this post in particular.
  6. Please refrain from general political statements in (dis)favor of one of the major parties or their representatives.
  7. Please take personal conversations off this forum.
  8. We will not publish any comments advocating for violent or any illegal action.
  9. We cannot connect participants privately - feel free to leave your contact info here. You may want to create a new / free, readily available email address that are not personally identifiable.
  10. Please refrain from copying and pasting repetitive and lengthy amounts of text.
  11. Please do not post in all Caps.
  12. If you wish to link to a serious and relevant media article, legitimate advocacy group or other pertinent web site / document, please provide the full link. No abbreviated / obfuscated links. Posts that include a URL may take considerably longer to be approved.
  13. We suggest to compose lengthy comments in a desktop text editor and copy and paste them into the comment form
  14. We will not publish any posts containing any names not mentioned in the original article.
  15. Please choose a short user name that does not contain links to other web sites or identify real people.  Do not use your real name.
  16. Please do not solicit funds
  17. No discussions about weapons
  18. If you use any abbreviation such as Failure To Register (FTR), Person Forced to Register (PFR) or any others, the first time you use it in a thread, please expand it for new people to better understand.
  19. All commenters are required to provide a real email address where we can contact them.  It will not be displayed on the site.
  20. Please send any input regarding moderation or other website issues via email to moderator [at] all4consolaws [dot] org
  21. We no longer post articles about arrests or accusations, only selected convictions. If your comment contains a link to an arrest or accusation article we will not approve your comment.
  22. If addressing another commenter, please address them by exactly their full display name, do not modify their name. 
ACSOL, including but not limited to its board members and agents, does not provide legal advice on this website.  In addition, ACSOL warns that those who provide comments on this website may or may not be legal professionals on whose advice one can reasonably rely.  

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Maybe this could become a new opening for the various Innocence Projects to take up, and it could be a new source of revenue by winning compassionate release under the Privacy Act.

If an agency willfully or intentionally fails to maintain records in such a manner and, as a result, makes a determination adverse to an individual, it will be liable to that person for money damages…”

I think the guards let this go on because it takes the heat off of themselves.

Death sentence: The deadly jail beating of John Chamberlain
While inmates beat John Derek Chamberlain to death, the senior deputy at the minimum-security barracks sat in the guard station watching television.

BOP Public risk factors is the very same arrogant train of thought lent the ” congressional intent” expressed in the Act named in SMITH V03. What are the chances\ odds Congress would not evoke that factor upon the obvious use of ex-post language in new statutes impacting the already convicted? NEVER! And this being the case and fact, how can such an acknowledgement be used in weighing balance given too the founders prescribed broad prohibition in Art 1? These clauses are meant as prohibition upon Congressional power, the clauses are regulatory in themselves. Had the Rehnquist court majority not upheld the Acts would not have impacted congressional ability to regulate the people in the least bit except for the use of the prohibited language. By doing so the highest court greatly diminished the courts credibility for the sake of court popularity. A significant distinction for all intensive purpose. Popularity almost always wins elections but it does little to promote peace.