1st Federal Inmate to Die of Coronavirus Penned Heartbreaking Letter to Judge

Patrick Jones “spent the last 12 years contesting a sentence that ultimately killed him,” one of his former lawyers said

File photo of a Texas prison.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

In the months before the coronavirus infiltrated the U.S., Patrick Jones, a 49-year-old inmate locked up for nearly 13 years, began drafting a letter inside the walls of a federal prison in Louisiana. He was hoping to get a sentence reduction through the newly signed First Step Act, NBC News reports.

"I feel that my conviction and sentence was also a punishment that my child has had to endure also and there are no words for how remorseful I am," Jones wrote to U.S. District Judge Alan Albright in a letter dated Oct. 15, 2019. "Years of 'I am sorry' don't seem to justify the absence of a father or the chance of having purpose in life by raising my child."

Jones was arrested in 2007 after cops found 19 grams of crack and 21 grams of powder cocaine inside the apartment he shared with his wife in Temple, Texas. His wife testified against him and was spared a prison sentence. But Jones was sentenced to 27 years behind bars.

The judge denied the request on Feb. 26. Twenty-two days later, Patrick Estell Jones was dead, the first federal inmate to die of the coronavirus disease.

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