Lompoc federal penitentiary is like a Petri dish for COVID-19 and District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood won’t let Honofre Chargualaf spend another day locked up with his health at risk, stressing the reasons for his continued incarceration doesn’t make sense.
Honofre Chargualaf has served 20 years in prisons across the country. He was handed down a prison sentence of 30 years in 1996 for drug and gun charges. That sentence was reduced to 26 years leaving him 6 years left in prison.
During that time, he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, a chronic liver disease. He also tested positive for COVID-19 in late May and to this day is symptomatic.
He motioned the federal court for emergency compassionate release, citing his health and the present conditions at Lompoc as extraordinary circumstances warranting his early release.
According to Chargualaf, Lompoc penitentiary does not have proper safety measures in place in light of COVID-19. He shares a 12×15 cell with three inmates who also tested positive for coronavirus and is only allowed to shower three times a week. These are conditions which shocked the Chief Judge.
Chargualaf’s release was supported by his family, his attorney Leilani Lujan and the US probation office, all of whom applauded his self-rehabilitation efforts. Even the Chief Judge noted his exemplary efforts in turning his life around and maintaining a positive parenting role in his children’s lives.
This was the second time Chargualaf had requested to be released. He was denied release by Gatewood earlier this year siding with the government. He was also denied a compassionate release request by the Bureau of Prisons.
And while the government still maintained opposition to his release in line with the BOP, Gatewood had a change of heart.
And just before Wednesday noon Guam time, she gave the order for his immediate release.
As she spoke those words, a flood of emotion was heard as family members rejoiced at finally being able to have their loved one back in their lives.
Now 51 years old and having spent half his life behind bars Chargualaf was placed on a 3-year supervised release term which he will spend in California.