76-Year-Old Returned to Prison After Missing Calls Goes Home

Gwen Levi was at a word-processing class with her ringer off at the time
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2021 1:20 PM CDT

A 76-year-old grandmother sent back to prison after attending a computer class is back to living life with a small amount of freedom. US District Judge Deborah C. Chasanow granted Gwen Levi a request for compassionate release Tuesday, saying "it would do little" to force the Baltimore resident to serve the remainder of her 24-year sentence for dealing heroin behind bars, reports USA Today. Levi served 16 years before becoming one of more than 24,000 federal prisoners released on home confinement in 2020 in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. The nonviolent offender reconnected with family, including her 94-year-old mother, and volunteered for criminal justice groups. Her misstep came in attending a 2.5-hour word processing class on June 12, per WTOP.

She believed she was approved to attend the class, during which her phone was turned off. But the Bureau of Prisons classified it as an "escape" after officials at her halfway house tried and failed to reach Levi by phone. She was returned to prison within days. In Tuesday's ruling, Chasanow wrote that Levi, in remission for lung cancer, didn't have any major disciplinary issues in prison, where "she took many courses, worked, and completed drug education." Levi will remain on home confinement. Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott said he was "overjoyed" with the order as the initial "lack of patience and empathy was wrong." (More Bureau of Prisons stories.)

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