According to reports, thousands of inmates were released from prisons and jails throughout the US because of COVID-19. Advocacy groups are now calling on President Joe Biden to exercise broad presidential powers to commute these inmates’ sentences.
The CARES Act, a government policy which allowed use of home confinement, was implemented as a way to release some criminals as COVID-19 rapidly increased in facilities. A year and a half later, there are talks of having 4,500 inmates return to prison (Law Enforcement Today).
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) website increased offenders to home confinement when then-Attorney General William Barr issued a memo in March 2020 to release inmates who had health issues that could put them at risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. Later, Trump issued a memo that those with sentences beyond pandemic period would need to return to prison.
The Biden administration is encouraging former inmates to formally submit commutation applications. White House spokesperson Andrew Bates stated that “The administration will start the clemency process with a review of non-violent drug offenders on the CARES Act home confinement with four years or less to serve.”