White House begins clemency process for drug offenders sent home from prison during COVID-19 pandemic, according to report
- Prisoners sent home during the pandemic have been asked to submit applications to have sentences commuted, according to Politico
- It reportedly applies to non-violent drug offenders with less than four years to serve
- The White House confirmed that President Biden was ‘exploring’ using his clemency powers for individuals on home confinement
The Biden administration is asking offenders who were sent home from prison because of the pandemic to submit applications to have their sentences commuted, it emerged on Monday.
The idea would mean that potentially thousands of nonviolent offenders would not have to return to incarceration when the pandemic is over.
The White House said President Biden was committed to reducing incarceration and helping people reenter society
As he has said, too many Americans are incarcerated – and too many of those incarcerated are Black and Brown,’ said White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates.
‘That is why the president is exploring the use of his clemency power for individuals on CARES Act home confinement.
‘The administration will start the clemency process with a review of non-violent drug offenders on CARES Act home confinement with four years or less to serve.’
Earlier, Politico reported that drug offenders, released to home confinement under the pandemic relief bill known as CARES, with four years or less on their sentences, had been asked to begin the clemency process.
The Biden administration is reported to be considering commuting sentences for some nonviolent offenders sent home from prison during the pandemic
Thousands of prisoners have been sent home since the spring of 2020, under the pandemic relief bill known as CARES. Politico reported that non-violent drug offenders, with less than four years left to serve, have been asked to begin
‘While we are excited to hear the Biden administration is actively seeking clemency petitions for non violent drug offenders, we pray he will not carve up CARES Act recipients into small subsets,’ said Amy Povah, a former prisoner and clemency advocate, told the news outlet.
‘No other president in history has been handed a ‘dream come true’ opportunity to easily identify a large group of individuals who have already been vetted and successfully integrated into society, many of whom are now gainfully employed, found housing, and are healing the family unit that was injured due to tough-on-crime sentencing policies that previous administrations have acknowledged are horribly unjust.’
The Bureau of Prisons has released thousands of nonviolent federal prisoners to home confinement since early 2020 amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
Prisoner groups say their rate of reoffending is low.
The result was a campaign urging the administration not to send the inmates back, a campaign that included businesses who relied on offenders to fill jobs during a national labor shortage.
‘This is your opportunity to provide second chances to thousands of people who are already safely out of prison, reintegrating back to society, reconnecting with their loved ones, getting jobs and going back to school,’ said a letter sent by 20 advocacy groups, including Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The move comes after The White House last month confirmed that Biden was ‘exploring’ the idea of shortening sentences for those locked up for drug crimes.
‘We are working hard every day to reform our justice system in order to strengthen families, boost our economy and give people a chance at a better future,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during one of her August daily briefings.
‘The president is deeply committed to reducing incarceration and helping people successfully reenter society.
‘And he said too many people are incarcerated – too many are black and brown – and he’s therefore exploring multiple avenues to provide relief to certain nonviolent drug offenders, including through the use of his clemency power.’