Organizations Call on President Biden to Grant Clemency to Thousands on COVID Home Confinement

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By Stephanie Boulos and Stacie Guevara

WASHINGTON DC – Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Action Network urged President Biden to prevent thousands of people currently living on Covid home confinement from being sent back to federal prison by using his clemency authority.

The three groups have been asking the Biden administration for months to address this crisis as the coronavirus pandemic comes to a close.

This crisis was created when the Trump Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel issued a memo claiming people investigated by prison officials for transfer to home confinement should be sent back to prison once the COVID-19 pandemic ended.

The Biden Administration still has yet to reverse that memo.

“It is cruel to keep thousands of people in the dark about whether or not they’ll return to prison,” FAMM President Kevin Ring said.

Ring added, “The Justice Department has done nothing to fix this situation, but President Biden could end the uncertainty today by announcing he will use his clemency authority to ensure that people remain home with their families.”

Udi Ofer, the director of the Justice division of the ACLU noted that the enforcement of thousands back to prison would be unnecessarily cruel and would not ensure anyone’s safety.

Ofer additionally spoke on Biden’s promise during his campaign trail to reduce the federal prison population, but predicted “he will preside over a vast expansion of the federal prison population unless he acts now.”

The president and executive director of Justice Action Network, Holly Harris, said that this would not be incredibly difficult for the Biden administration, because the initial movement was prompted by the Trump administration.

Holly Harris even went so far as speaking on President Biden’s nonexistent need for “political cover.”

Harris said, “Lawmakers and advocates from both sides of the aisle agree: it’s time for President Biden to grant clemency to these men and women so they can fully connect with their families, secure jobs, and move on with their lives. Anything less is unconscionable.”

The FAMM, ACLU and JAN, along with other organizations, wrote a letter on April 1, 2021 “…urging President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland to rescind the OLC legal memo.”

The groups have said that the people who were sent home under the CARES Act, were not informed whether or not they would be returning to prison.

Additionally, there is no mention in the CARES Act that even requires their return to prison, even after the end of the emergency.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley both are in unison on the agreement that those in home confinement should be permitted to remain home with their families.

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I’m a second year Political Science and Philosophy major at UC Davis from Socal, hoping to pursue a career in law!

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