In the last few weeks, there has been growing discussion throughout Washington about taking a dramatic step toward fighting the spread of coronavirus: namely, the transfer and release of several inmates of U.S. prisons, considered prime breeding grounds for the spread of COVID-19.
On March 26, Attorney General William Barr sent a two-page memorandum to Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Michael Carvajal directing him to “grant home confinement for inmates seeking transfer in connection with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Agreeing that “many inmates will be safer in [prison] facilities where the population is controlled,” Barr nonetheless made a strong point that “for some eligible inmates, home confinement might be more effective in protecting their health.”
The nation’s top law enforcement official gave no hard numbers of just how many of the approximately 175,000 inmates would be removed from the 122 federal prisons nationwide.
But he did offer a list of criteria for prisoners to be confined to home instead of jailed. These include the security level of present facilities, an inmate’s conduct, whether the inmate has presented a “verifiable re-entry plan that will prevent recidivism and maximize public safety, and an assessment of the danger posed by the inmate to the community.”
No hard numbers of inmates moving out have yet been released, a Justice Department spokesman told Newsmax.
One former law enforcement official who has been particularly outspoken on this issue is former New York City Police Commissoner Bernard Kerik, who himself served a stint in prison.
“Elected officials overseeing jails and state prisons must not commit to blanket releases of inmates,” Kerik told uis, “And must sensibly protect public health and safety by basing any release decision upon one’s risk to the community. The tools and the knowledge to do this already exist. It’s time to apply them.”
Risk assessments, added Kerik, “to identify and individually release those defendants who do not constitute a significant public safety risk are critical. These assessments, would avoid misclassifying low-risk people and prevent the release of high-risk people who ought to be held. Anyone discharged on their own recognizance must be confined to home confinement or electronic monitoring, where appropriate.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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