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To: President Joe Biden
President Biden: Commute the sentences of federal prisoners on home confinement!
President Biden must commute the sentences of the more than 4,000 people currently on home confinement from federal prison during the coronavirus pandemic.
Why is this important?
In June 2020—the day before my 75th birthday—I was approved for home confinement under a provision in the to limit the spread of COVID in American federal prisons. It was a very strict criteria: people had to have completed more than 50 percent of their sentence, never engaged in violence, committed no disciplinary infractions in the past year and received the lowest score on the department’s risk-assessment tool. We are being incarcerated for low level offenses, and President Biden can act now to keep us with our families.
I was fitted with an ankle monitor that tracked every move I made, and I could not go anywhere without permission from my case manager. But I was aware of the restrictions and grateful to be at home with my 95-year-old mother and family.
I had signed up for a computer class administered by the Maryland Justice Project, which was being held in a building owned by the Baltimore City Police Department. I didn’t know the building was designed to prevent GPS and other signals as a security measure, so the ankle monitor I was required to wear lost its signal. My case manager called me, but I’d turned off my phone so I could focus in class—I’d been labeled an escapee, and had to return to prison over this minor misunderstanding.
Luckily, I was released after three weeks, and was given a compassionate release by a judge—but this was only after national media coverage and public pressure.
Thousands of other people are continuing to live in constant fear, worried that at any given moment, they’ll be ripped away from their families, homes, and communities, and sent back to prison.
And in fact, there’s a chance that all of the people currently serving out their sentences in home confinement will have to return to prison once the federal COVID emergency order ends—this was the Trump DoJ’s order, and the Biden administration has shown no signs of changing that.
President Biden, please act now to keep these people home. They are doing everything right, yet they wake up every day not knowing where they will be in a few months, and that uncertainty makes it impossible to plan for their futures. Please remove that cloud. Commute their sentences now.
I wrote about my experience for the Washington Post in July, and you can read the full story here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/15/gwen-levi-home-confinement-prison-biden/