Bipartisan Organizations Call on President Biden to Immediately Prevent Thousands on Home Confinement From Being Sent Back to Federal Prison

June 28, 2021 12:30 pm

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

WASHINGTON — Today, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Justice Action Network called on President Biden to use his clemency authority to prevent approximately 4,000 people currently living in home confinement from being sent back to federal prison. For months the groups have been asking the Biden administration to address this impending crisis, created when the Trump Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel issued a memo erroneously finding that people vetted by prison officials for transfer under the CARES Act to home confinement should be sent back to prison once the COVID-19 emergency ended. Despite bipartisan calls for the Biden administration to reverse the OLC memo, it has failed to do so.

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

“Forcing thousands of people to go back to prison would be cruel, legally unnecessary, would not make us safer, and would cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Udi Ofer, director of the Justice Division of the ACLU. “On the campaign trail, candidate Biden promised to reduce the federal prison population, yet as president, he will preside over a vast expansion of the federal prison population unless he acts now. It is time for President Biden to use his clemency powers to end this impending crisis.”

“This is not a heavy lift for the Biden administration. All these people were moved out of prison because Trump officials felt it was safe enough for them to go home, said Holly Harris, president and executive director of Justice Action Network. “What more political cover does President Biden possibly need? 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.”

On April 1, 2021, FAMM, ACLU, and JAN joined more than 20 organizations on a letter urging President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland to rescind the OLC legal memo. According to the groups, people sent home under the CARES Act were not told that they might have to return to prison, and nothing in the CARES Act requires the Bureau of Prisons to bring them back, even after the emergency has ended. Significantly, a bipartisan group of more than 25 members of the U.S. House of Representatives also urged President Biden to act, and the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) both agree those on home confinement should be allowed to remain with their families.

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The latest in Smart Justice

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Smart Justice

Smart Justice issue image

The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is an unprecedented, multiyear effort to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50% and to challenge racism in the criminal legal system.