Thousands of inmates sent home during the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to complete the rest of their sentences there as long as they remain compliant, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday.
A final DOJ rule released Tuesday clarifies that inmates placed on home confinement under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will not be automatically sent back to prison when the Biden administration lifts the public health emergency, though the Bureau of Prisons retains discretion to impose sanctions on or return inmates who commit infractions. After multiple extensions, the Biden administration announced in January it would allow the public health emergency to expire on May 11.
An Arizona county is looking into expediting the release of inmates in case its COVID-19 vaccination mandate results in the loss of half of its corrections officers.
Acting Pima County Administrator Jan Lesher wrote city officials about the issue, saying the Pima County Adult Detention Center faces a potentially significant loss of manpower when the vaccination requirement for employees takes effect on Jan. 1, 2022.
The County board of supervisors voted in November to require vaccinations of all workers before the end of the year. At that time, any correctional officers who have declined to be vaccinated would “face termination if an accommodation is not possible.”
The Arizona House of Representatives passed a sentencing reform bill on Monday, but due to a Senate committee chair failing to bring a similar bill up for a vote in the Senate earlier this year, SB 1064, it’s not clear whether it will make it through the Senate. SB 1064 would relax sentencing laws, which are some of the strictest in the nation. According to Arizona Prison & Sentencing Reform, the state has the fourth highest incarceration rate. Inmates are currently required to serve 85% of their sentences, but the bill would reduce that to as little as one third of their sentences. Inmates who complete self-improvement programs such as substance abuse treatment and maintain good behavior while in prison can receive time off their sentences.
The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, with legislators voting 50-8 in favor. The previous version of the bill, HB 2173, didn’t get very far in the Senate, since Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) declined to hear the legislation in his committee. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowfake), decided to get around Petersen with the new legislation by using a strike-everything amendment. He amended a bill that had already passed out of the Senate, so it can go straight to the Senate floor for a vote. However, it is up to Sen. President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) to bring it up for a vote. There is little time left, since the legislative session will likely end this week, according to the AZ Mirror.
This week, five Republican senators sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding his office’s handling of January 6 protesters. The letter revealed the senators are aware that several Capitol defendants charged with mostly nonviolent crimes are being held in solitary confinement conditions in a D.C. jail used exclusively to house Capitol detainees.
Joe Biden’s Justice Department routinely requests—and partisan Beltway federal judges routinely approve—pre-trial detention for Americans arrested for their involvement in the January 6 protest. This includes everyone from an 18-year-old high school senior from Georgia to a 70-year-old Virginia farmer with no criminal record.
It is important to emphasize that the accused have languished for months in prison before their trials even have begun. Judges are keeping defendants behind bars largely based on clips selectively produced by the government from a trove of video footage under protective seal and unavailable to defense lawyers and the public—and for the thoughtcrime of doubting the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.