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Remember All Those Prisoners Released Over Covid-19? DOJ Announces What Will Happen to Them Now

Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP

At the start of the pandemic tens of thousands of federal inmates were released to home confinement over concerns about the spread of the virus through prison facilities. On Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced that many of them don’t have to go back.


According to the Bureau of Prisons, more than 35,000 inmates were transferred to home confinement since March 2020. In that time, many have completed their sentences, but about 5,000 remain. 

Reversing a previous order, the Department of Justice said Tuesday those who meet the conditions and still have time to serve do not have to go back to prison.

“Thousands of people on home confinement have reconnected with their families, have found gainful employment, and have followed the rules,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “In light of today’s Office of Legal Counsel opinion, I have directed that the Department engage in a rulemaking process to ensure that the Department lives up to the letter and the spirit of the CARES Act. We will exercise our authority so that those who have made rehabilitative progress and complied with the conditions of home confinement, and who in the interests of justice should be given an opportunity to continue transitioning back to society, are not unnecessarily returned to prison.”


According to the DOJ's memo, the CARES Act gives BOP "discretion over which inmates to return to facilities and which to leave in home confinement at the end of the emergency period." 

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