DOJ will allow federal prisoners to continue home confinement during pandemic

The U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday that it will allow federal inmates who had previously been released to serve home confinement because of the threat of COVID-19 in prisons to remain at home. The department originally said it would force inmates released under the program to eventually return to federal custody. Densely populated prisons have become a breeding ground for COVID-19, according to researchers.

The decision on the Justice Department’s website read: “This office concluded in January 2021 that, when the COVID-19 emergency ends, the Bureau of Prisons will be required to recall all prisoners placed in extended home confinement.” Since March 2020, some nearly 5,000 federal inmates have been released from prison and placed into extended home confinement. The directive was part of the CARES Act, an initiative to address COVID-19 crisis. At least 2,830 of those prisoners would have to be returned to a correctional facility once the pandemic emergency is deemed over, under the previous interpretation of the rule.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement:  “Thousands of people on home confinement have reconnected with their families, have found gainful employment, and have followed the rules. We will exercise our authority so that those who have made rehabilitative progress and complied with the conditions of home confinement, and who in the interests of justice should be given an opportunity to continue transitioning back to society, are not unnecessarily returned to prison.”

Editorial credit: Mark Van Scyoc /

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