At this moment, thousands of people safely completing their sentences at home are living in fear that they’ll be sent back to federal prison through no fault of their own. A memo from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued in the final days of the Trump administration threatens to send around 4,500 people released under the CARES Act to home confinement back to federal prison after the pandemic ends. If the Biden administration doesn’t act to fix this, families like Travis Rogers’ will be torn apart. Here is his story.
“There is no comparison to prison food!” Travis says as he and his 20-year-old daughter, Kara, help his 75-year-old father, John, a disabled veteran, into the car. They’re headed out for their regular family dinner where they live in Springfield, Missouri. Maybe a stop at the bowling alley, too.
Sentenced in 2011 to 21 years for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, Travis was released to home confinement during June 2020 under the CARES Act with the understanding that as long as he followed all the rules, he would not return to prison.
The family makes the trip out to their local Mexican restaurant as often as they can because it’s not certain if Travis will remain on home confinement. The Biden administration has said that they are considering clemency for many of the people under the cloud of the OLC memo, but Travis doesn’t meet the criteria; with a release date of 2028, he has too much time remaining on his sentence.
“I just told Kara and my dad that I may have to go back. I don’t think my dad really understands. And Kara is just in disbelief. She said, ‘Dad, I don’t think that’s going to happen. You’re doing so good out here.’” Despite the uncertainty, Travis and his family are determined to make the most of whatever freedom he has.
He’s focused on building back his family ties and his work life. Before prison, Travis ran his own trucking company, and now he has his eyes set on starting a freight company. He currently works 50+ hours a week on an assembly line preparing car engines for shipping at SRC Automotive.
The Biden administration’s narrow solution is far too restrictive to acknowledge the good that people like Travis are doing. Travis’ own boss has become an advocate for keeping workers like him, workers the American economy desperately needs right now, home with their families and not behind bars.
When his mother died while he was in prison, Travis couldn’t look after his ailing father, his growing daughter, or the house they’ve all been fixing up together. But for now he can, and he just hopes it will stay that way.
Please join us in urging the Biden administration to take action and #KeepThemHome! Add your name to FAMM’s Keep Them Home campaign to help families.