Reps. Lee, Bush Urge President Biden To Commute Sentences of Individuals Released Due to COVID-19 Without Immediate Executive Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), along with Reps. Cori Bush, Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), David Trone (MD-06), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and over 20 of their colleagues, sent a letter to the Biden Administration urging the President to commute the sentences of the more than 4,000 people who were released on home confinement in 2020 as part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In their letter, the members also called on the administration to create an independent clemency board to address the backlog of more than 15,000 pending clemency petitions.
“This moment in history can be a defining one for criminal-legal reform, and following actions by Congress last year, granting clemency for thousands of people will move us closer to our ideals of liberty and justice,” the members wrote. “Nearly all of those released have thrived since returning home by reconnecting with their families and communities, and by engaging actively in civic life. As government officials who care deeply about ending cycles of incarceration, we urge your administration to save lives by not returning people on home confinement back to prison. Mr. President, with a stroke of your pen you could remove the threat of reincarceration that looms over thousands of people who have already demonstrated their commitment to being productive members of their communities.”
All 4,000 individuals who were placed on home confinement were rigorously vetted by the Bureau of Prisons, and have fully reconnected with their families and communities. There are an additional 15,752 people who have pending clemency petitions, many of whom have been waiting for several years. Congresswoman Bush and her colleagues urge the Biden administration to establish an advisory board — independent of the Department of Justice — to modernize the clemency process, and expeditiously review these cases in order to provide answers to those waiting.
“Clemency is a constitutional imperative. Granting commutations to those on home confinement and restructuring the clemency process demonstrates genuine compassion, while ensuring that our country continues to mitigate the risks of COVID-19, particularly in the populations that are most vulnerable to its spread,” the members continued. “As Members of Congress who care deeply about ending systemic and racial injustice in our criminal legal system, and who are willing to do everything possible to ensure every community is safe from the deadly consequences of this pandemic, we stand ready to work with you.”
Full text of the letter can be found here.
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