Prisons are Petri Dishes During COVID; Compassionate Release Saves Many

By Richard Luthmann

I arrived at the Brooklyn MDC in December 2017. Three months later, I was granted bail – in March 2018. But three months later, the judge revoked my bail – in June 2018. I was back at MDC for a couple of months, then shipped to Federal Medical Center-Devens until November 2018.

I returned to MDC from Thanksgiving 2018, through 2019 and into early 2020. By the time Covid started, I was at Allenwood Low-Security Correctional Institution in White Deer, Pennsylvania.

The Bureau of Prisons had an “Action Plan” called “Modified Operations,” which meant, “lock everybody down all the time.”

Bureau of Prisons guards, like many federal employees, are inclined toward laziness. Once they had the excuse to confine inmates to their cells, they ran with that inclination, magnified, amplified it, you might say.

If before COVID, prison staff did the “bare ass minimum,” you can bet you sweet ass, they had nothing to do but sit on theirs with “Modified Operations.”

Some of them, through indolence, expanded theirs. Some had ponderous asses.

Their only job was to ensure the virus wasn’t transmitted into the prison. The guards and staff were the only ones who could bring it in, and they failed.

I was in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, a low-security prison. You might think a prisoner would do better in low. With COVID-19, it’s the worst, because the low security prisons are open-air dormitories.

Instead of having a cell where two spread germs, you have a dormitory with 120 people.

When COVID-19 hit Allenwood, everyone got it.

These prisons have been called “Petri dishes.” That’s what it is.

Usually, immunities go up because you’re exposed to so much in prison. You always have sniffles or a cold. You’re never 100%, but your immunities get better. But if you have a pandemic or contagious illness, it becomes a problem.

I got to Allenwood, and COVID-19 started.

Trump signed the First Step Act, allowing prisoners to petition for compassionate release. Once COVID-19 came, everybody put in for a compassionate release.

Samuel Walker
Samuel Walker

As a jailhouse lawyer, I drafted compassionate release motions and got a few people out. One was my cellie Samuel Walker, a black guy from Buffalo in his early 70s.

He had a long record and got jammed up because he was the driver for a pimp selling teenage girls. He was charged with low-level sex trafficking. Even low-level offenses are serious where females are underage.

Sam and I played cards, mostly pinochle. Sam told stories.

He was a prisoner during the 1971 Attica riots, a teenager then.

For years he went by an alias, “Michael Gray.” In West Virginia, Michael Gray was a black dude of means who ran nightclubs and pimped women. He had politicians, lawyers, and judges in  Wheeling, “taken care of.”

In New Orleans, Michael Gray spoke with an “Islands” accent and peddled fake jewelry to rich people. In Atlanta Michael Gray was known to make midnight runs of contraband. He hustled in Ohio, Los Angeles, New York City, and all points between.

Some of Sam’s best stories were about his hometown Buffalo.  He hung with Rick James back in the day.

But now, Sam was in his 70s, and COVID-19 was trying to knock him out. He asked if I could put together a compassionate release motion for him.

I did. It was mailed November 23, 2020, and hit the WDNY docket a week later. Sam Walker’s Compassionate Release Motion.

A little more than a month later — on January 5, 2021, Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo granted Sam’s motion. He was released to home confinement.  His life, thanks to the good judge, may very likely had been saved.

Samuel Walker's Request to US District Court Judge Lawrence Vilardo
Richard Luthmann wrote Samuel Walker’s successful Compassionate Release request

Once Walker got his release, I had a line of clients around the door. Everyone wanted me to write compassionate release motions.

Walker’s Release Order issued by Judge Vilardo.

All my time was spent doing legal work for months.

In prison, they do not necessarily give a prisoner the best medical attention. But there was no forced vaccination or forced anything in BOP Medical. There is “conditioning.”

If you don’t get the vaccine, you’ll get hard treatment. You could get placed in the SHU, the Segregated Housing Unit, or into other segregated housing because you don’t have the vaccine.

Nothing is “forced.” But refusal invites retaliation.

So, Sam Walker, who Judge Vilardo agreed to let out for compassionate release, got taken to the hospital. He was very sick from Covid.

What the BOP did was take everybody who tested positive to a separate unit, and quarantine everybody together. If anybody got deathly ill, they would take them to the hospital. Sam was one of those. He was quarantined with a group, got sicker and went to the hospital in late December.

His case was life-threatening. He recovered a bit by the time the release was granted. But if another strain came through, it might have taken old Sam away.

By that time, the BOP was looking to release prisoners who were sick or in high-risk categories to cut medical costs. A lot of older inmates got out on compassionate release. They went to home confinement.

Inmates with medical complications, and prisoners with AIDS got out immediately because BOP did not want to pay for Covid complications for somebody on AIDS medication. They worried about medical costs.

Compassionate Release may more aptly be called “Compassionate Cost Cutting” by the BOP.

As far as the release, the judge can release a prisoner to BOP Home Confinement on an ankle bracelet and other restrictions or end his prison term and remand him to the United States Probation.

The First Step Act’s compassionate release gave judges discretion and allowed inmates to petition courts.

On December 21, 2018, President Trump signed into law the bipartisan First Step Act
On December 21, 2018, President Trump signed into law the bipartisan First Step Act

For those who remained, there were masks.

The BOP has a Program Statement detailing Prohibited Act.

BOP Mask Shot

Rule 207 states it is a violation to wear a mask. The BOP does not want prisoners wearing masks. They want to identify prisoners. Before Covid, wearing a mask was an offense on par with fighting, extortion, and sexual threats.

After Covid, it was a violation not to wear a mask.

BOP Covid Masks Required

As a jailhouse lawyer, it was my duty to help clients avoid punishment. When one my clients got caught not wearing a mask, I would have him go to his disciplinary hearing with a BOP rulebook and say, “It’s a violation to wear a mask, and it’s a violation not to wear a mask. So which is it?”

After that happened a couple of times the Unit Team doing the discipline got a little frustrated. It was funny to a degree, but not too funny. Not much is funny in prison.  It’s a place of secret sorrows.  As the poet said, we call a man cold when really he is only sad.

Housing for four


A former attorney and former federal prisoner. Richard Luthmann is a writer and contributor for the Frank Report. He recently appeared on Peter Mingils and Scott Johnson’s radio show from whence some topics discussed in this post were amply discussed and enhanced by questions and comments.

Radio personality, Peter Minglis

Former Amway distributor, Scott Johnson


About the author

Richard Luthmann

Richard Luthmann is a writer, commentator, satirist, and investigative journalist with degrees from Columbia University and the University of Miami. Once a fixture in New York City and State politics, Luthmann is a recovering attorney who lives in Southwest Florida and a proud member of the National Writers Union. 

For Article Ideas, Tips, or Help: or call 239-287-6352.


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  • anon
    January 28, 2023 at 6:49 pm
    Shadowstate is a [redacted]

    I am so sorry that many people are offended by reading truthful news stories that disagree with their political prejudices.
    Maybe I should be a disc jockey and just play music.
    You people who hated Trump are really going to hate me and Ron DeSantis.

    Below is a Libs of Tik Tok story
    When I was a young punk I grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, one of America’s most Communist states and cities.
    The Minnesota DFL is an openly Marxist political party.

    Here is a school board meeting from Minnesota.
    It contains strong language quoting the kind of literature Minnesota school children are force fed in a Communist school system.
    If you choose to watch this video ask yourself if this is an appropriate book to be placed in a public school.

    Video: Mother Reads Shocking Gay Porn Material Found In Minnesota School Direct To Board Members
    Disgusted officials call for emergency intervention after hearing graphic passages
    A video of a mother reading passages from homosexual porn material found in her child’s school library directly to horrified school board members in Minnesota has gone viral.

    The content is patently graphic and of an extreme sexual nature, yet was available to students at the Sartell-St. Stephen Independent School District, and was even used in classrooms.

    The mother, Marie Pangerl, told the school board members “I’m going to read you several different passages from a book titled ‘Him’ by Sarina Bowen that the district made available for students to check out in room Heinz 104, an English classroom.”

    “I want to know how and why this book was ever allowed in our school, more specifically, that process that was just discussed and how books are approved,” Mrs Pangerl added.

    She then proceeded to read out the following passages, as the board members squirmed in discomfort:

    “I sucked him deeper into my mouth, almost to the base. And just when he moaned, I released him, gliding my tongue along the long, hard length of him, until his d*ck was glistening.”

    “I laughed at the moisture leaking out of his tip, and the taste of him infused my tongue, making my head spin. I was blowing my best friend. It was so surreal. It was what I dreamed about for so long, and the fantasy was nothing compared to the reality.”

    “F*ck yeah, Canning’s hips began to rock as I took him in my mouth again. I licked the crown of his c*ck, teasing, savoring, then taking him deep again.”

    “I quicken the pace, squeezing his shaft on every upstroke, tighter than I thought he’d like. But he kept muttering ‘Harder, faster, Wes.’ A choke sound left his lips; ‘F*ck Wess, you’re making me come.’ His fingers pulled my hair to the point of pain, his abs tightening as his hips rocked faster. A few seconds later, he groaned. The husky sound vibrated against my lips as he went still, thrust deep, and came inside my mouth while I swallowed up every last drop.”

    “I tease and caress for several long moments before slipping my finger inside. My other hand grips his erection. I’m selfish, but I don’t want him to come until I’m very deep inside him.”

    “So I don’t take him in my mouth or jerk him as hard as I know he wants. Slow, feather-light strokes is all he gets as I work my finger into his tight hole. When a second finger joins the party, his brows draw together. Beads of sweat break out on his forehead. Mine too. Loosening him up is one of the hottest thing I’ve ever done.”

    “All three fingers, he moans loud enough to wake the dead, and I release his erection to press my palm to his mouth. I push forward again, and this time I’m able to ease in. Just the tip, but holy hell, the pressure is incredible. He’s hot and tight, squeezing me into oblivion. ‘Oh f*ck, oh f*ck, oh f*ck.’ It’s all he seems capable of saying as my cock pedals deeper.”

    When Pangerl finished reading just a selection of the material, she announced “I hope these examples serve as a wake-up call to many other parents and community members in this district,” adding “And let me be the first to ask you again. Who, how, when and why?”

    I wouldn’t even say the School Board debated…

    Every single member, except the guy in the middle, wanted that book removed immediately. Fire that pedophile. 🤷🏽‍♂️

    • After typing this passage out Shadow must have been harder than day old bagel with a smearing of cream cheese.

  • Mr. Luthmann,

    the society has a right to be protected from convicted criminals. You should have given some thought before you were committing your crimes.

    • Two responses:

      1. The government committed at least three felonies to secure my indictment and I have professed my innocence.

      2. I don’t like your thoughts. You are a thought criminal. Someone from the Ministry of Thought will be by to bring you to reeducation. Society has a right to be protected from you.

    • I agree.

      The point here is that Sam Walker was a driver playing a minor role in a larger sex worker industry.

      The question is, if he is a driver, is told to pick up woman X, take her to place Y, wait, and bring her to place Z, where is the culpability if she looks 22 but is really 15?

      I would argue if the girl is working as a pro, the crime should be treated as such.

      The pedophile peddlers operate very differently. They have their own islands.

      • “The pedophile peddlers operate very differently. They have their own islands.”

        I disagree, there are plenty of low- and middle-income pedophiles who can’t afford to fly off to an island to abuse children.

        “The point here is that Sam Walker was a driver playing a minor role”

        I think it doesn’t matter, just like if he were driving a group of people who he believed were going to rob a home but he didn’t realize their plan was to actually commit murder. Or let’s say their plan really was just to rob the home but they ended up killing someone accidentally. He’s still on the hook as accessory to murder or whatever the exact charge would be.

        • The US Sentencing Commission disagrees with you:

          The Commission conducted a review of cases involving low-level offenders, analyzed case law, and considered public comment and testimony. Overall, the study found that mitigating role is applied inconsistently and more sparingly than the Commission intended.

          Also, most poor people pedophilia is relationship or Internet based. The poor CHOMOs don’t pay.

          • Yes, if the pedo is poor it’s often relationship based; if middle income, they can get a teenage hooker, too.

            Thanks for the link, I will read more about “that mitigating role”.

      • Maybe that’s where you should go! You helped free a sexual monster. You’re so proud now, aren’t you? You little do good doer.

        • If you read the transcripts from the Walker case, you would have seen that he has a former US Attorney and Federal Prosecutor speaking on his behalf saying that Mr. Walker was not guilty of sex trafficking, but supporting prostitution. There is a big difference. Sex traffickers are sex offenders, drivers for hookers are not.

          But the Government doesn’t care about this important distinction. They want convictions, look at people as commodities, and have not compassion. Thank God Judge Vilardo does.

  • Good read, engrossing AND entertaining. I especially liked the line from the Poet, very ‘food for thought and you should come dine.’ thank you.

  • Glad you were able to assist others in legally escaping that BOP hellhole.

    As an aside, it would be an understatement to say that your penmanship leaves much to be desired. It’s not as bad as Keith’s penmanship, thank goodness, but it’s still shitty enough to give a partial migraine headache to anybody trying to read it.

    I pride myself on my clear penmanship —– taken with clear, slow, consistent, and deliberate strokes of my pen.

    I expect others to do the same without fail.

    Yeah, I do understand that you were likely busy writing many such papers per day.

    But a person’s penmanship doesn’t degrade to such an alien level simply because they were a bit rushed one day. It takes years of practice to fuck-up your penmanship to such a high level.

    I implore you — with every fiber of my being — to please do better, sir.

  • Glad you were able to assist others in legally escaping that BOP hellhole.

    As an aside, it would be an understatement to say that your penmanship leaves much to be desired. It’s not as bad as Keith’s penmanship, thank goodness, but it’s still shitty enough to give a partial migraine headache to anybody trying to read it.

    I pride myself on my clear penmanship —- taken with clear, slow, consistent, and deliberate strokes of my pen.

    I expect others to do the same without fail.

    Yeah, I do understand that you were likely busy writing many such papers per day.

    But a person’s penmanship doesn’t degrade to such an alien level simply because they were a bit rushed one day. It takes years of practice to fuck-up your penmanship to such a high level.

    I implore you — with every fiber of my being — to please do better, sir.

    • You shouldn’t be double-approving the same post, Richard/Frank.

      I sometimes post a duplicate post, within 1-2 minutes of the 1st one, due to a glitch in your site that begins making my post disappear from my own view after submission.

      Normally a post should say “awaiting moderation” after submission —- but whenever this glitch happens, the post just disappears and is probably being trapped in a spam filter.

      It happens routinely like clockwork, every 4 or 5 posts, which is why I must change my email address slightly (by one character) so that your site will set a new browser cookie —- in order to begin seeing my post as “awaiting moderation”.

      Whenever this happens, you should just approve one post and delete the other.

      You assholes. 🙂

      PS — Although I was telling the truth when I said that I find Richard’s handwriting to be substandard and alien-like, I also inserted a few lines for satire purposes (but without using any smileys to indicate that I wasn’t being totally serious).

      It’s up to the reader to decipher when I’m being serious and when I’m not.

  • Are handwritten motions treated any differently by courts than professionally-prepared documents? I know they shouldn’t be, but curious about reality. Unsure if Allenwood has any semblance of a law library with WP capabilities or an old Olivetti. But it’s gotta suck when all you have is a legal pad and a ballpoint – which I guess could become a shiv in the wrong hands. Anyway, congrats on Walker’s motion.

    • Sam Walker was very happy he didn’t die. I hope he’s having a good life on the outside.

      There is a library at Allenwood. But the problem is that during Covid, you were allowed there for 1 hour a week to make copies and such. It’s a zoo, so nothing can get produced. Those facts are stated in Sam’s declaration.

      There is a single law library computer on each unit, which is basically a CD-ROM with law that is over a year old. There is no Internet access in prison. Each unit has 120 people.

      There is no word processing, so if you want some research from the law library computer, you either have to print the pages (costs Trulincs; a lot of $$$), or you have to write it down. I had dozens of full legal pads on the inside.

      If you want to “word process” you can use the Trulincs email system. That costs a lot of money because you pay Trulincs by the minute to use the machines. I would spend hours on legal work, so you do the math. Even if you are pro se, you have to spend hundreds of dollars on the inside to produce shitty work.

      Sam Walker’s stuff was hand written because we didn’t have any access to the typewriters at the prison library because of BOP Modified Operations.

      Maybe I will do a piece about my submissions. I typed them up, and people might be interested to see what a lawyer in prison would produce for themself. The sad fact is, the Department of Justice and US Attorneys for the Eastern District of New York regularly seal my submissions without a legal basis to do so and in violation of the law. I actually filed a Notice and Reservation of Rights with the EDNY in my case, US v. Luthmann, 1:17-cr-00664-RJD. That’s been sealed, with no justification or reasoning.

      I believe the Government and the Courts are just scared of me telling the truth because it would end careers in the FBI and the DOJ. They don’t like defendants showing that they were railroaded by governmental misconduct.

      Frank thinks there is a bigger First Amendment issue here and he may explore it. In the entire Keith Raniere case, there were virtually no submissions that were sealed from public view. In my case, virtually every one of my submissions remain sealed. As a member of the fourth estate, Frank may pursue an answer why.

      • “people might be interested to see what a lawyer in prison would produce for themself” – I would be very interested in that, and how the whole process works.

      • Richard – you know I was thinking about chatGPT (which has infiltrated FR lately and I give frank a bunch of shit for it).

        It’s being used to do all sorts of things, including write legal arguments and documents. I’m wondering if that will be a game changer for folks like prisoners that can’t afford or are unable to get legal help at all. It’s only been out like 2 months and it’s probably already good enough for some legal stuff. In years it could replace a lot of expensive things lawyers do. Could be really good for prisoners.

        what do you think?

    • Taking up way too much space on the news. The only interpretation that makes sense: A crazy guy brakes into the Pelosi house in the middle of the night. 80-something-year old Paul wakes up, hears glass breaking and sees a crazy guy with a hammer standing there. The crazy guy with the hammer asks 80-something-year-old Paul where his wife is. Paul talks to the crazy guy, keeps the conversation light and doesn’t get killed. The crazy guy was probably standing there (outside the bathroom door) when Paul called 911. Paul was smart enough to keep the 911 call light. Just like domestic violence survivors call 911 and talk to the 911 operators like they’re ordering a pizza. That’s what Paul did and he saved his own life.

      It’s how survivors of domestic abuse act when they need to act like death threats are fine, weapons and crazy talk are fine too — until the police arrive to save them. Paul was probably in shock, acting on adrenaline and disassociated from the reality of what was happening. The fact that so many people on news shows and social media don’t know how survivors survive those kinds of situations points to one reason judicial, prison and rehabilitation systems produce more crime, not less.

  • I know of at least one case where a convicted burglar in Illinois was set free during the Covid crisis and went on to stab an elderly man to death.

    Where is your compassion for law abiding people who become prey for criminal predators who are released because of Covid?
    August 18, 2020
    Jeffery Meegan, age 30, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the death of 76-year-old Floyd Farkas, of Matteson, last Monday.

    Police found Farkas lying face down inside his Wildrock Terrace home about 4 a.m. on August 3rd.

    Farkas was pronounced dead at an area hospital.

    The medical examiner’s office determined Farkas’s death was ruled a homicide caused by multiple injuries suffered in an assault.
    Meegan was in a gang that specialized in breaking into isolated homes in rural Will County Illinois.
    An earlier story detailing Meegan’s previous record of burglaries:

    Police blotter: Dec. 22

    Dec 22, 2009 Updated Oct 15, 2013

    Two Monee men were arrested by Will County Sheriff’s Police for a burglary reported Sunday in the 9800 block of West Bruns Road. Arrested were Jeffrey T. Meegan, 18, and William C. Boyd, 18, both of 26825 88th Ave. in Monee.

    Five others have been arrested for break-ins in unincorporated areas of Will County over the past 30 days, according to Sheriff Paul Kaupas.

    • You’re right. The Stasi should come throw YOU in jail to prove that law and order works.

      Life by heuristics is no way of living.

      But if we follow your heuristic reasoning to the end, you should get the hook.

      An elderly black man who is not a danger to anyone, sentenced to less than two years in a low security prison should get the death penalty because, despite his age and medical conditions, we need law and order.

      But isn’t your seditious speech the reason why innocent black and brown men are being slaughtered behind prison walls?

      Shadow State, you are more guilty than they are because of your harmful thoughts and speech.

      We must make an example of you and put you on the hook, so all others will OBEY.

      Are there bad dudes? Of course. But who’s to say you’re not one of them?

      • “Are there bad dudes? Of course. But who’s to say you’re not one of them?”

        Joe Biden, the Communist spy in the White House says I am Reprehensible.

        Here is a warning for NXIVM’s Sahajo, who lives around Berlin:
        I can tell from her Instagram feed and the pictures of apartment towers in East Berlin.
        (My brother and sister in law have visited Berlin.)
        I also have had Professors who grew up in post-war Berlin.
        Watch this video and if things go South she should be prepared to flee Berlin.

      • Herr Luthmann:

        During the Cold War my brother and sister-in-law traveled to East Berlin on behalf of the US government to spy on the East German government.
        At any given time the Stasi employed up to 20% of the East German population as informants.

        The Stasi was a waste of money and resources.
        Another example of the failure of Communism.
        That said there are real criminals who commit real crimes and the public needs some kind of protection from those degenerates.

  • Sounds like you helped out many with the compassion letters, that’s awesome, BUT another article about prison with no rape stories. That sucks. We want at least one rape story in all prison articles. A prison article without a rape story is like a sundae with no iced cream. I need something to laugh at and rape is always a funny topic.

  • Richard, when the Big hat Scotty boy Johnson hit you up on the chat line, did he offer you home goods and or kitty litter?

    • Come on Peaches. Haven’t you noticed how sparkling clean Richard’s jeans and tucked in button down look? What we can’t tell is if the newfound organic floral fragrance of Richard’s clothes are helping with his allergies?

      I’m curious if Scott’s mom sent Richard a thank you note for helping to give her back her garage?

      I don’t see Richard as a cat person but I’m sure Scott and the missus have a few cats. That kitty litter was probably used up years ago. Especially considering kitty litter can get odor out of shoes and remove the cigarette smell from purses.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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