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Blumenthal Calls on DOJ to Ensure Non-Violent, Medically At-Risk Individuals Can Remain in Home Confinement Beyond the Pandemic

Congress expanded home confinement for certain incarcerated individuals, but Trump Administration memo mandating their recall to prison threatens health and safety, 99% of these individuals have served in home confinement without incident, taken steps to re-enter society and reintegrate with their communities

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to rescind an eleventh-hour memorandum opinion issued by the Trump Administration that orders the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to recall prisoners in home confinement to correctional facilities at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I write to urge you to you rescind this eleventh-hour opinion from the last Administration and take steps to ensure that incarcerated individuals who have transitioned to home confinement can remain in home confinement for the remainder of their sentences and work to reintegrate with their communities,” Blumenthal said.

Pointing to how non-violent, medically vulnerable individuals in home confinement have been able to reunite with their families and re-enter the workforce, Blumenthal wrote, “It is critical that the strides these individuals have taken, and continue to take, to return to society are not upended due to policy judgments that are inconsistent with the policy objectives set forth in the law.”

The letter cites reporting about staggering conditions and experiences at FCI Danbury, which led the District Court for the District of Connecticut, in May 2020, to issue a temporary restraining order against the facility due to home confinement being, “the only viable measure by which the safety of highly vulnerable inmates can be reasonably assured.”       

Issued on January 15, 2021 by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice, the memorandum opinion incorrectly interprets the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which expanded BOP’s existing statutory authority to place incarcerated individuals in home confinement to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in federal correctional facilities.

“The OLC memorandum opinion issued in January 2021 threatens both this successful re-entry process and the health and safety of incarcerated individuals and correctional staff alike…Nothing in the CARES Act, nor in the existing home confinement statute, indicates that those placed in home confinement must be recalled when the COVID-19 pandemic is over just because the emergency period has ended,” the letter concluded.

The full text of the letter is available here.