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Doctor’s release request referred for court review

A doctor who is incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto has run into problems as he seeks a compassionate release to home confinement because of his fear of contacting the coronavirus.

Dr. Atif Babar Malik, 50, last week filed a petition with the U.S. District Court in Johnstown seeking his release from a five-year prison sentence because, he claims that he has medical conditions that make him susceptible to the coronavirus.

District Judge Kim R. Gibson referred the Malik petition to U.S. Magistrate Patricia L. Dodge in Pittsburgh for review.

Dodge informed Malik that he must seek compassionate release by either filing a petition for a habeas corpus proceeding or by seeking a sentence reduction from the federal judge in Maryland who originally sentenced him on charges of financial fraud.

On Thursday, Malik filed an addition to his original petition stating that the U.S. District Court in Johnstown has the power to grant him compassionate release to his Maryland home, but Dodge rejected the filing and repeated that he must file either a proper habeas corpus petition and pay a $5 filing fee, seek court permission to file his petition without paying the fee or seek redress through the sentencing court in Maryland.

Malik stated that FCI Loretto last week was in a “pandemonium of confusion” about how to handle requests for the kind of release he seeks.

He stated in his Thursday filing that the Bureau of Prisons established a criteria for compassionate release that included a condition that the inmate had already served 25 percent of his sentence.

Malik noted that he meets that criteria.

He said he was actually given forms, which he signed, agreeing to restrictions to be placed on his home confinement.

He said he was placed on a list, and he had his wife make arrangements to activate a landline in his home that is required for monitoring inmates on home confinement.

Malik said he was then informed he was not eligible for compassionate release, which is why he is pursuing a review by the federal court.

“The confusion caused by the Bureau of Prison has further delayed what should be a quick process to prevent at risk, nonviolent, low risk (for committing further crime) inmates the opportunity to self quarantine at home to prevent complications of COVID-19,” he stated.

Malik in his petitions claims he is particularly vulnerable to the virus because he has coronary heart disease and other conditions.

He said his is housed at Loretto with six other male inmates, and, he stated, putting individuals into such a small space — sharing bathrooms and other facilities — does not allow for social distancing.

He contends the BOP is showing “deliberate indifference,” contending officials are ignoring health practices that endanger inmates.

Dodge rejected Malik’s proposed addendum to his original petition, but she sent him a form to fill out that would allow him to relief his petition in the appropriate manner.

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