Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman discusses decision to keep some people on home confinement out of prison

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) is voicing support for allowing some prisoners released to home confinement during the coronavirus pandemic to remain out of prison.  

“We saw by this situation that there were people in prison who were not a threat to anybody and who could be productive individuals in a community to reconnect with their families. So yeah, there was a good outcome here,” Coleman said on Hill.TV’s “Rising.” 

“We knew this even before the pandemic, but the pandemic required us to act in a different way,” she added. “One of the results of the pandemic was to try to de-incarcerate those individuals who were not a harm to society, who were low-level offenders and to get them out of the prison system because of the threat of the pandemic.” 

The congresswoman also said that the entire criminal justice system “is ripe for the kind of review” into having someone “pay for whatever infraction it is that they are accused of and convicted of” while also considering “rehabilitation” and providing “a second chance.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced last week that the Department of Justice would allow some prisoners released on home confinement because of COVID-19 to stay out of prison. 

“Thousands of people on home confinement have reconnected with their families, have found gainful employment, and have followed the rules,” Garland said in a statement at the time. “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.”

Garland’s decision reversed a former policy adopted in the final days of the Trump administration.

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