The 2020 CARES Act prioritized the use of home confinement as an appropriate way to release some incarcerated people as COVID-19 spread through facilities. But nearly a year later, about 4,500 people on home confinement are facing the possibility of being returned to prison once the pandemic recedes, reports Yahoo News. Dozens of advocacy groups have called upon President Joe Biden to exercise his broad presidential powers and commute the inmates’ sentences. A BOP spokesman in an email to NBC News said the bureau may choose to keep inmates on home confinement post-pandemic if their sentence is nearly over. Concerning cases where inmates have more years to serve, the spokesman said, “the BOP is focused right now on the expanded criteria for home confinement and taking steps to ensure individualized review of more inmates who might be transferred.”
Then-Attorney General William Barr issued a memo in March 2020 directing the bureau to prioritize releasing inmates were deemed to have especially serious health issues that put them at higher risk for severe illness caused by Covid-19. The Federal Bureau of Prisons website said it “significantly increased its placement of offenders on home confinement,” after the memo. Later, former President Donald Trump issued a memo that said federal offenders with sentences lasting beyond the “pandemic emergency period” would have to return to prison.