The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has refused to grant a “compassionate release” from prison to 94-year-old Carlos Tapia-Ponce, one of the oldest federal inmates. He is serving a life sentence for managing a warehouse that was the site of what to this day remains the largest cocaine seizure in history, writes Nat Hentoff for the Cato Institute. Ellen Lake, an Oakland, Ca., attorney who is seeking Tapia-Ponce’s release, didn’t expect the “stubborn resistance she encountered as she tried to pursue justice for an old man she believes doesn't deserve to die in prison,” Hentoff says.
Tapia-Ponce had been recommended for a compassionate release/reduction in sentence on two separate occasions by two different BOP wardens. The first request was filed in 2013 and denied the following year. The second petition, filed in August 2015, was also denied. Tapia-Ponce has served 26 years in prison, during which time his wife has died. He has not seen any members of his family since his arrest. However, every week for the past 26 years, his daughters have gathered in Juarez and spoken with their father over the telephone. Asks Hentoff: “What possible benefit is it to the U.S. government or any of its citizens to continue to pay for the medical care of a 94-year-old nonviolent inmate who has a loving family willing to care for him in Mexico? How does it make Americans any safer to subject this man to the torture of a slow, lonely death without the care and comfort of his family?”