Free At Last: After 34 years in Federal Custody Rufus Rochelle Freed

By Chalana McFarland

“Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!”  Rufus Rochelle told staff members at the Ocala halfway house when he was called in to have his ankle monitor removed and his home confinement ended.

Nearly two years ago, Rochelle was released under the CARES ACT that allowed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to place low security prisoners with medical conditions on home confinement to reduce the prison population during th1e COVID-19 pandemic.

Rochelle was required to wear an ankle monitor and states he often felt wearing the monitor on his ankle was dangerous when going in and out of stores and places of business. “Someone might think I have a weapon” referring to the bulge in his sock from the monitor “and might shoot me.”

Rochelle no longer needs to worry about the ankle monitor after he was freed from home confinement upon the awarding of more than 210 days of earned credits from the First Step Act of 2018.

Mandated by Congress in a 2018 federal law called the First Step Act, it allows most federally incarcerated persons to earn 10 to 15 days of “time credits” deducted off their sentences for every 30 days of participation in certain programs or activities offered to them by the Federal Bureau of Prisons designed to reduce recidivism.  These credits can then be used for transfer to home confinement or supervised release as the end of their sentences approach.

Unfortunately, the Federal Bureau of Prisons failed to implement the awarding of credits although the law was enacted over three years ago.

After pressure from advocacy organizations and a damning report from the Inspector General’s office that found the earned time credits owed to about 60,000 federal inmates who had completed the programs had not been applied. The Director of Bureau of Prisons, Michael Carvajal, resigned from his position in January in the face of mounting criticism over his overall leadership.

In 1987, Rufus was arrested and convicted for a drug conspiracy charging him with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack. He was sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of 40 years and 8 months.

“My time in prison allowed me to help effect change in the lives of many young men whom I mentored,” said Rochelle. He believes he was able to alter the negative misconceptions prison guards, staff and others have had toward him and others that were imprisoned.

On the day his ankle monitor was cut off, the halfway house staff came to wish him well and stated, they were looking for great things from him.

Rochelle acknowledges his three-decade journey wasn’t easy but knows success lies ahead.  He said, “I can’t look back. To achieve success, I must keep moving forward because more of God’s blessings are on the way.”

He sums it up saying “I am so excited and never felt this way before, a great and wonderful feeling to be free.”

We are so excited to share the book Rufus Rochelle – The Gentleman with the world. His story is both incredible and unbelievable. You will wonder how his unjust treatment happened and how he survived. It was truly an honor to publish this story for an experienced leader and survivor in the fight for justice reform. Congratulations friend, you deserve every opportunity, every open door and the blessings of longevity coming your way.
P. Sullivan, Legible Thoughts Publishing House

Rochelle’s autobiography, RUFUS ROCHELLE – THE GENTLEMAN, (Publisher@ is expected to be released Summer 2022.

About Carma Henry 25108 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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