By Renae Reints
March 15, 2019

A man from Houston, Texas became among the first federal prisoners to benefit from the “compassionate release” program expanded under President Donald Trump’s 2018 First Step Act this week when he was let go to receive medical treatment.

Richard Evans, 74, was just under two years into a five-year sentence for conspiracy, fraud, and distributing prescription narcotics when he noticed a mass growing on his neck, NPR reports. After the Federal Bureau of Prisons denied his initial request for release, Evans took his case to a judge.

Under the compassionate release program, elderly and ill prisoners can petition a judge for early release if the BOP fails to act on their case within 30 days. The inmate must prove their health is in severe condition, requiring treatment outside of the prison system.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, who initially sentenced Evans in 2017, found that the former doctor had “extraordinary and compelling reasons” to be released, NPR reports. Evans sentence was reduced to the time he had already served, plus three years of supervised release.

Despite the fact the judge acted within days of Evans’ request, the mass of malignant melanoma on his neck had swelled to 5 inches since he first reported his health concern to officials in October of last year. Evans was released Thursday from the Louisiana prison where he was serving his sentence and returned to Houston, where he will see experts at the MD Anderson Cancer Center next week, says NPR.

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