AG Merrick Garland announces predictable fate of thousands of federal inmates freed due to COVID

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(Video Credit: BNC News)

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Tuesday that thousands of federal inmates who were released due to COVID concerns will not have to return to prison when the health emergency ends and can instead remain under home confinement.

The move is a reversal of an order by the Trump administration issued in January and will affect approximately 5,000 convicts.

Thousands of people on home confinement have reconnected with their families, have found gainful employment, and have followed the rules,” Garland proclaimed in a statement.

“We will exercise our authority so that those who have made rehabilitative progress and complied with the conditions of home confinement, and who in the interests of justice should be given an opportunity to continue transitioning back to society, are not unnecessarily returned to prison,” he declared.

Earlier in the day, Garland met with several inmates on home confinement to hear about their experiences.

The Department of Justice ruling reinterprets the language contained within the CARES Act which allowed prisoners to be transferred into home confinement, according to the New York Post.

Inmates were selected for release based on a number of factors that included their vulnerability to the virus and their conduct while behind bars. Sex offenders were not considered for release.

The DOJ’s 15-page memo stated that the bill was “most reasonably interpreted” to give Bureau of Prisons officials “discretion over which inmates to return to facilities and which to leave in home confinement at the end of the emergency period.”

“BOP’s interpretation avoids requiring the agency to disrupt the community connections these prisoners have developed in aid of their eventual reentry,” Christopher Shroeder, who is an assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, wrote.

“It allows the agency to use its expertise to recall prisoners only where penologically justified, and avoids a blanket, one-size-fits-all policy,” he added.

More than 35,000 federal inmates were transferred to house arrest under the CARES Act. Many of those released have completed their sentences. Several hundred who reoffended were sent back to prison. But almost 5,000 remained confined at home under the program according to Schroeder.

“Long-term home confinement — while not the norm — is becoming less unusual, given the measures Congress has adopted authorizing longer home-confinement placements for elderly and terminally ill offenders,” the memo asserts.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has ordered a reexamination of the ruling as prison reform advocates have lobbied the White House for a more flexible approach to home confinement, according to The Washington Post.

“This is excellent news for thousands of people and their families to get before the holidays. There is no way the people on CARES Act home confinement should have been sent back to prison, and we are very grateful to the Biden administration for fixing this mistake,” Families Against Mandatory Minimums President Kevin Ring said. “We hope clemency remains on the table for those who no longer warrant home confinement. But for now, today’s decision will ease a lot of concerns and fears.”

No one is surprised in the least over this development:


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