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US Civil Rights Groups Escalate Pressure on Biden to Keep Prisoners at Home Amid Pandemic

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US flag - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.08.2021
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Barrington M. Salmon - A coalition of criminal justice activists is upping its campaign to prevent the Biden administration from forcing thousands of inmates to return to prison as COVID-19 infections continue to surge, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) President Kevin Ring said.
Last week FAMM, along with other civil rights groups, urged the Justice Department to reverse a Trump administration decision to send nearly 4,000 inmates back to prison because they allegedly did not meet home confinement eligibility requirements.
"We sent a letter to DOJ [Department of Justice] but we have more coming in terms of the campaign," Ring said. "We have a six-figure ad campaign [and] Color of Change is doing newspaper ads and we have a national call-in day."
The Trump administration’s Justice Department, Ring added, had issued the legal ruling in response to an inquiry from the Bureau of Prisons, which the civil rights groups have argued does not have the authority to grant or revoke home confinement.
Ring said when they found out about the order in January "it sent shockwaves through the community."
"Last year was the worst year I’ve seen to be in prison. People were stuck in cells for 23 hours a day, there were no visits for a year, prisons were understaffed, some people got no meals and there were a few hundred deaths because of COVID," Ring said.
In addition to FAMM, the letter sent to the Justice Department last week was signed by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and four other civil rights and advocacy groups.
The United States leads the world in putting its citizens and residents in prison with 2 million people incarcerated at an annual cost of $80 billion a year. Criminal justice advocates and activists contend that home confinement offers a more humane and economical alternative to overcrowded and under-staffed prisons.
The daily covid case count in the United States has spiked by nearly 400% within the past 30 days, with most infections attributed to the Delta variant affecting unvaccinated individuals.
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