A Judge Called His Mandatory Sentence ‘Excessive’ and ‘Wrong.’ Less Than a Year Later He Died In Federal Prison

Less than a year after being sentenced to prison for 40 years under a mandatory minimum sentence that the judge declared “excessive” and “wrong,” Frederick Turner, 38, was found dead in his cell at a high-security federal lockup in Colorado on Wednesday, according to a criminal justice advocacy group.

FAMM, an organization that works to repeal mandatory minimum sentences, announced Turner’s death yesterday and said his family had been working to get Turner, who had no prior criminal convictions, transferred to a different prison for his safety.

“The thing that’s so frustrating is this was entirely foreseeable,” says FAMM president Kevin Ring. “You were sending this gentle, nonviolent offender into a hell hole run by gangs.”

Ring says that Turner was sent to the U.S. penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. The prison has a reputation for violence, and Turner feared for his life after he refused to join a white supremacist gang.

The circumstances of Turner’s death are not yet known. The Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but its online inmate locator confirms he died on Thursday.

Last July, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III sentenced Turner to 40 years in federal prison after Turner was convicted of dealing methamphetamines for another man, Bassam Ramadan, as part of a larger drug trafficking prosecution in Northern Virginia.

According to his defense attorney and family, Turner struggled with addiction and depression, and he relapsed after the death of his close nephew in 2016. Around that time, Ramadan recruited Turner to sell meth after meeting him on the dating app Grindr.

Turner received a 10-year sentence for the drug crimes and an additional 30 years for gun crimes—five years for the first gun charge, and 25 years for the second gun charge. The “stacking” of gun charges in this way is one of the crueler features of federal sentencing law. (See also: the case of Weldon Angelos, who was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison under stacking firearm enhancements for selling marijuana to an undercover officer while possessing a gun.) And in Turner’s case, as in so many others, the gun penalty was

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