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Elderly woman arrested for not answering phone call released from prison

Gwen Levi was granted a compassionate release on Tuesday (July 6).

Gwen Levi The Washington Post via Getty Images

Gwen Levi, who was arrested after she missed some phone calls from officials at her halfway house, has been released from prison. On Tuesday (July 6), U.S. District Judge Deborah C. Chasanow granted the 76-year-old woman a compassionate release, noting that four more years in prison “would do little” to Levi, who is nonviolent and in remission from lung cancer.

“During her incarceration, she took many courses, worked and completed drug education,” Chasanow wrote in a four-page ruling. The judge also commended her behavior during home confinement ahead of her arrest.

Levi was serving more than 30 years for drug conspiracy charges when her sentence was commuted by six years as part of the the First Step Act — a bill signed during the Trump administration that reduced punishments for nonviolent drug offenders.

She later became one of more than 24,000 federal prisoners who were permitted to serve the sentence at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the final days of Trump’s term, Levi’s home confinement was first interrupted by a Justice Department memo that ruled that inmates with sentences that extend beyond the pandemic must return to the prison facilities to serve their remaining time behind bars. Last month, she was actually arrested after an alleged misunderstanding.

While attending a computer word-processing class in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Levi turned her phone off and missed several calls from halfway house officials. She was taken into custody four days later for the alleged “escape,” according to a Bureau of Prisons report.

The incident report also states that Levi’s ankle monitor showed that she was not where she said she would be, but her attorney Sapa Mirchandani argued against those claims. “There’s no question she was in class,” he said. “As I was told, because she could have been robbing a bank, they’re going to treat her as if she was robbing a bank.”

Levi’s release was met with excitement from Mysonne, who brought attention to her case and called for assistance in signing an online petition that called for her freedom. “WIN! Today a federal judge ordered the feds to immediately release #GwenLevi,” he wrote. ”Thank you IG Fam for mobilizing and answering my sincere call for help! You made sure Gwen was not forgotten. She goes home to her family tonight! It was such an honor to link arms with my co-counsel Sapna Marchandani and powerhouse strategist @imbreonwells.”

See Mysonne’s celebratory post below.

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