Biden faces criticism for not extending home confinement for prisoners

President BidenJoe BidenSenate Republicans Urge CDC To Lift Public Transport Mask Mandate AOC Said It Doubts Biden’s Victory Would Have Been Certified If GOP Was In Control Of House Overnight Defense: Intel Releases Highly Anticipated UFO Report | Biden meets with Afghan President | Conservatives attack Milley PLUS has come under fire for failing to announce the extension of a home containment program for inmates that was launched during the coronavirus pandemic.

Progressives and criminal justice advocates have lobbied the administration for months to reverse a Trump-era policy that kills the program when the pandemic ends. They are frustrated that Biden’s remarks this week did not respond to it, warning that it could impact Biden’s legacy in crime.

“It’s so frustrating to me that the answer we keep getting from administration is that we will cross that bridge when we get there, when the emergency is over. It’s so deaf and cruel. People are reconnecting with their families and finding jobs, so they need to know if the government is going to send them back to jail, ”said Holly Harris, president and executive director of Justice Action Network.

representative Bonnie watson colemanBonnie Watson ColemanTSA Works on Additional Pipeline Safety Regulations Following Colonial Pipeline Hack President Biden May Prevent More Than 4,000 From Going Back to Jail Lawmakers Enforce Legislation to Defend Pipelines Against Cyber ​​Threats MORE (DN.J.), who led a letter from 28 House Democrats in April calling for the policy to be canceled, “is disappointed that he has not formally extended the home containment program,” said said a spokesperson.

Advocates see it as a faux pas for Biden not to discuss the program as part of the administration’s crime portfolio.

The home confinement program during the coronavirus pandemic was launched in response to the CARES law in March and ordered the Federal Bureau of Prisons to prioritize home confinement for some inmates to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, around 24,000 detainees have been placed in home confinement.

In the closing days of the Trump administration, the Justice Department’s legal counsel‘s office issued a memo stating that under federal law, inmates released under the CARES Act must return to prison when the coronavirus emergency is over, unless they come to an end. of their sentence.

Biden and Attorney General Merrick garlandMerrick Garland Florida Church Leaders Arrested in Capitol Riot 12:30 p.m. Report from The Hill – Featured by Facebook – Biden Helps Negotiate Biparty Infrastructure Deal Justice Department Sues Georgia In subject of the law on the vote PLUS could override this policy.

“The main source of disappointment is that we have heard nothing about rescinding this memorandum,” said Ames Grawert, senior lawyer for the Brennan Center justice program.

“I think it’s really shortsighted. I know my student loans will resume after September 30 and have been able to plan financially accordingly. Why should people living with a federal prison sentence not be able to plan their lives, ”he added.

Biden and Garland spoke about the importance of rehabilitating people during their speeches on crime this week, but did not mention inmates who are still serving their sentences at home.

There are around 4,500 people who have been confined to their homes during the pandemic and now face uncertainty as to whether they may have to return to prison.

The growing disappointment among progressives, who see Biden sticking to a Trump-era memo as a big mistake, could have political implications for the president.

“Under Joe Biden, the number of people in federal prisons increases dramatically by several thousand because he refused to allow these people to stay at home, something that is not acceptable for the American people and certainly not its base, ”said Harris.

The Biden administration has not explained why the administration had not said anything about canceling the note, despite months of pressure to do so and the focus on crime this week.

A White House official noted their work in helping formerly incarcerated people reintegrate into communities, which is one of their five areas of focus on crime, when asked why the home confinement program was not included in the speech on the crime.

“The timidity with which the Biden administration has handled the home lockdown problem is all that people don’t like about politics. They don’t want someone to throw a thumbs up to see which way the wind is blowing… they want strong leadership, ”Harris said.

The rise in crime in the United States has also complicated the situation.

Homicide rates rose about 25% nationwide in 2020 and more in some cities, such as Atlanta, where the murder rate rose more than 50% year-over-year in May .

There is usually a more marked increase in violent incidents during the summer months, with an imminent threat until the fall.

The reason for the increased crime rate is open to debate, with the Liberals suggesting that it is in part due to the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Conservatives attributing it to the fact that law enforcement has been undermined in the past year.

Regardless, advocates say the administration should allow some inmates to stay at home.

“We absolutely know that there is an increase in crime but it is not these people who are committing it because they are under surveillance and we have this information, we should blame the culpability for a spike in crime on them. people who are supervised and play by the rules, ”Grawert said.

Lawyers also argue that detainees transferred to house arrest were monitored and largely did not violate the conditions of their situation.

“If they are such a low risk and they have not violated the conditions, it is difficult to imagine a reason why they should be returned,” said Maria Morris, senior counsel for the ACLU National Prison Project. , adding a “ridiculous waste of resources”.

Many inmates placed in home confinement are elderly or in vulnerable situations due to COVID-19, which posed a threat to them if they stayed inside a prison. Harris calls it “bad government” to send these inmates back to jail.

“At this point, the president just needs to give them mercy and let them move on. They got out because the Trump administration felt he was safe enough to let them return home. What other coverage does he need? she said.

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