Rabiah Burks, 202-822-6700
FAMM, NACDL and Washington Lawyers’ Committee launch CARES Act Home Confinement Clearinghouse
WASHINGTON – FAMM, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (WLC) launched the “CARES Act Home Confinement Clearinghouse” today in an effort to prevent up to 4,000 people on CARES Act home confinement from returning to prison.
The Home Confinement Clearinghouse will match people on home confinement with pro bono attorneys or federal public defenders who will consider filing compassionate release motions in federal court on their behalf.
“Sending thousands of people back to prison after nearly two years of being with their families and reintegrating into society is unnecessary and cruel,” said FAMM President Kevin Ring. “The White House has shown no willingness to act so we are turning to the courts.”
Over the past six months, criminal justice advocates have urged the White House to rescind a Trump era Office of Legal Counsel memo that says that people serving their sentences on home confinement should be returned to federal prison once the pandemic ends. The Biden Administration agrees with the Trump Administrations interpretation of the law and has yet to propose a solution to prevent people from returning to prison.
“Sending these people back to prison – people who have lived up to their release conditions – shocks the conscience and puts our communities further at risk of contagion,” said NACDL President Martín Antonio Sabelli. “NACDL is immensely proud to be a part of this critical pro bono effort to secure compassionate release for as many of these deserving individuals as possible.”
Due to the Biden Administration’s failure to act, FAMM, NACDL, and WLC have determined that it is essential for people on home confinement to pursue other viable options to avoid their unnecessary return to prison. Compassionate release is one such option.
“COVID further exposed the injustice of mass incarceration. The Home Confinement program was an important first step to not only address the public health crisis, but a recognition that people can come home consistent with humanity and public safety. It is shocking that after nearly two years of building lives, the Biden administration would yank people back to incarceration,” said Jonathan M. Smith, Executive Director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
People eligible for free representation through the CARES Act Home Confinement Clearinghouse fall into the extraordinary and compelling circumstances provision in the federal compassionate release law. Many of them have been deemed by the Bureau of Prisons as “low risk,” were released to home confinement during a global pandemic due to their vulnerability to the virus, were never informed about the possible return to prison, have successfully reintegrated into family and community for a year or longer, and face the re-emergence of COVID-19 threat.
The CARES Act Home Confinement Clearinghouse is modeled after the highly successful Compassionate Release Clearinghouse COVID-19 Project launched by the same organizations last year. The Clearinghouse was launched in an effort to protect vulnerable incarcerated people from the spread of COVID-19 in federal prisons and placed over 2,000 cases with pro bono counsel. Federal public defenders helped even more people. Federal judges answered the call by granting more than 3,500 compassionate release motions, despite BOP and Justice Department opposition to nearly every case.
The Cares Act Home Confinement Clearinghouse will turn to federal judges again to help prevent the cruel unnecessary re-incarceration of up to 4,000 law-abiding people. We will also urge the Justice Department to not oppose any of the motions as they have done in the past.
For nearly three decades, FAMM has united the voices of affected families, the formerly incarcerated, and a range of stakeholders and advocates to fight for a more fair and effective justice system. FAMM’s focus on ending a one-size-fits-all punishment structure has led to reforms to sentencing and prison policies at the state and federal level and is paving the way to programs that support rehabilitation for the 94% of all prisoners who will return to our neighborhoods one day.
FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safeguard taxpayer dollars and keep our communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM is helping transform America’s criminal justice system by uniting the voices of impacted families and individuals and elevating the issues all across the country.