U.S. Attorney General Invokes New Emergency Power Under CARES Act to Expand Use of Home Confinement to Combat Dangers of Coronavirus Pandemic in Prisons
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Prison Fellowship®, the nation's largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, released the following statement supporting U.S. Attorney General (AG) William Barr's push to limit the use of pre-trial detention and increase the use of home confinement in light of COVID-19.
AG Barr released a memorandum to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) invoking new emergency power under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to expand the use of home confinement by accelerating determinations, prioritizing the federal prisons most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. AG Barr also issued a memo to all United States Attorneys asking for "caution" in sending a federal defendant to jail pre-trial, noting, "each time a new person is added to a jail, it presents at least some risk to the personnel who operate that facility and to the people incarcerated therein."
"The Attorney General's new guidance may literally save lives and comes not a moment too soon," said James Ackerman, President and CEO of Prison Fellowship. "Likewise, we're encouraged to see state policymakers from Kentucky Governor Beshear to Michigan Governor Whitmer leading the way. Prison Fellowship stands ready to support the Bureau of Prisons and our state corrections partners through prayer and resources, including launching positive digital program content for those who remain incarcerated during these incredibly challenging times."
"As the death toll rises for those behind bars, so does the urgency for action that honors human dignity and advances both personal and public safety," said Heather Rice-Minus, Vice President of Government Affairs & Church Mobilization. "Attorney General Barr's guidance on limiting pre-trial detention and expanding home confinement seeks to strike this chord by prioritizing those at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 while providing individualized review to weigh public safety risks. Nevertheless, we urge continued and greater action by the President, Congress, and state policymakers to prevent and respond to the dangerous impact of COVID-19 on those living and working in corrections environments."
- There are now 241 incarcerated individuals and 73 Bureau of Prisons staff who have tested positive for COVID-19, impacting 33 federal corrections facilities and six residential reentry centers.
- Eight people incarcerated in federal prisons have died as a result of COVID-19.
- According to an AG report to the BOP, there has been a 40 percent increase in the use of home confinement since AG Barr's original March 26th memo.