Civil rights teams provide DOJ authorized technique on holding inmates dwelling after pandemic

Civil rights groups on Wednesday called on the Justice Department (DOJ) to reconsider its position on the return to prison of thousands of federal prisoners who were detained during the pandemic, and offered a legal analysis they believed would justify them keep away from behind bars.

Five organizations sent a 20-page letter to the DOJ criticizing a Trump-era legal memo that concluded the department is legally required to revoke home custody for those transferred during the pandemic as soon as the emergency period is over.

They argued that the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo was based on a misinterpretation of CARES, the pandemic relief law passed last year that empowered federal law enforcement officers to place inmates under house arrest as the coronavirus appeared ready , to devastate prison populations.

“Time is of the essence,” says the letter. “Each day this memo remains in effect is a day that affects the ability of people in domestic detention to make the types of investments in families and jobs necessary for successful reintegration into society are.”

The letter was signed by the Democracy Forward Foundation, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Justice Action Network, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Tzedek Association.

A DOJ spokeswoman did not immediately respond when asked to comment.

Around 4,000 detainees currently in domestic detention have faced uncertainty about their future as the Biden government has said little about whether it intends to keep their predecessor’s legal memo.

Last month, the New York Times reported that the government had decided it needed to adhere to the OLC memo released just days earlier President BidenJoe BidenFive Takeaways from Ohio Special Primarys FDA Aims to Fully Approve Pfizer Vaccine By Labor Day: Night Defense Report: Police Officer Killed in Violence Outside the Pentagon | Biden officials refuse to revoke Iraq war permit | NSC urged the “Havana Syndrome” response to be monitored MORE In office, but neither the DOJ nor the White House have made any public announcements on how to proceed.

Many advocates of criminal justice reform have suggested ways to keep those in domestic detention out of prison without revoking the memo, such as pardoning all participants in the program or having the DOJ sign compassionate release requests.

The groups that signed the letter on Wednesday said they support these alternatives, but stressed that the government’s hands are not tied when it comes to the currently valid memo.

“The justification for the memo is flawed and potentially damaging to the office’s credibility,” the organizations wrote. “It overlooks important legal issues and does not address issues of reliability or due process that might apply to its analysis.”

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