The ACLU, NAACP and other criminal justice reform advocacy groups are pushing for President Joe Biden to grant clemency to citizens who have been allowed to serve the remainder of their federal sentences at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, but face the ever-present threat of being sent back to prison.
"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," a letter signed by more than 20 advocacy groups reads.
Currently, federal law allows prisoners to serve either six months or the final 10% of their sentence at home. However, the COVID-19 pandemic shifted policy and the Trump administration allowed 24,000 incarcerated individuals that didn't meet the federal requirement to serve their sentences at home. More recently, the Justice Department declared that individuals who have sentences that extend beyond the pandemic will be brought back to prison. This declaration includes those who have started school, gotten jobs, etc.
During his run to the White House, the President pledged to reduce the nation's prison population. Now, advocacy groups are holding him to his word and hope that he will use executive power to institute change.
"President Biden is committed to reducing incarceration and helping people reenter society. As he has said, too many Americans are incarcerated, and too many are Black and brown. His administration is focused on reforming our justice system in order to strengthen families, boost our economy, and give people a chance at a better future," White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said.
If the Department of Justice's order holds, 2,000 people will be brought back to prison. With that said, only 151 of the 24,000 people released early have violated the terms of their probation.
"These individuals had to meet numerous stringent requirements set by the administration to be allowed to enter home confinement," the letter adds.
"They will not be a risk to public safety."