UNITED STATES- According to reports, thousands of inmates were released from prisons and jails all across the country because of COVID-19.
Now, nearly a year-and-a-half since the onset of the pandemic, there are talks of having some of those inmates return back to prison.
Biden starts clemency process for inmates released due to Covid conditions 🤔🤔🤔 https://t.co/FY21AWenDo
— Dunster14 (@dunster14) September 13, 2021
54-year-old Brian Foster was released from prison close to a year ago under the CARES Act, a government policy that prioritized the use of home confinement as an appropriate way to release some incarcerated people as COVID-19 spread quickly through facilities.
When Foster returned home to Atlanta, Georgia, the first thing he did was surprise his mother. He moved in with two of his daughters, got a job as an auto mechanic tech, established credit and brought a grill so he could barbecue for his grandchildren, family and friends.
While Foster was able to secure housing and employment, his future remains uncertain as he is one of about 4,500 people on home confinement facing the possibility of being returned to prison once the pandemic ends.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) website stated that it “significantly” increased its placement of offenders on home confinement after then-Attorney General William Barr issued a memo in March 2020 directing the bureau to prioritize releasing inmates who were deemed to have especially serious health issues that put them at a higher risk for severe illness caused by COVID-19.
Later, in the waning days of the Trump administration, the president reportedly issued a memo that stated federal offenders with sentences lasting beyond the “pandemic emergency period” would have to return back to prison. 74-year-old Paulette Martin, who lives with her son and his family in West Virginia, said:
“It upsets me to be home doing all the right things and now they talk about I may go back.”
Biden Eyes Clemency for Some Inmates Released Due to COVID-19 https://t.co/fVSJlaUN34
— Michael Vario (@mvario1) September 13, 2021
Dozens of advocacy groups have called upon President Joe Biden to exercise his broad presidential powers and commute the inmates’ sentences, but the current administration said its legal team interprets the Trump memo to mean people will be required to return to prison a month after the official state of emergency for the pandemic ends.
But apparently the Biden administration is encouraging former inmates to formally submit commutation applications, according to criminal justice reform advocates.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is working hard every single day to reform our justice system in order to strengthen families, boost our economy, and give Americans a chance at a better future,” said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates.
“As part of this, President Biden is deeply committed to reducing incarceration and helping people successfully reenter society. As he has said, too many Americans are incarcerated – and too many of those incarcerated are Black and Brown.
That is why the President is exploring the use of his clemency power for individuals on CARES Act home confinement. The Administration will start the clemency process with a review of non-violent drug offenders on CARES Act home confinement with four years or less to serve.”
In an email to NBC News, a BOP spokesman said the bureau may choose to keep inmates on home confinement post-pandemic if their sentence is nearly over. As for the more “difficult cases,” in which inmates have many more years to serve, the spokesman said:
“The BOP is focused right now on the expanded criteria for home confinement and taking steps to ensure individualized review of more inmates who might be transferred.”
Thousands of inmates are waiting to learn about their sentences after the pandemic recedes. Scott Roberts, senior director of criminal justice campaigns at Color of Change, said in a statement:
“The Biden administration came in and we hoped this would be something they would overturn. It would make common sense, especially since the president has said he wanted to reduce the prison population. For this particular group of people, most are elderly or sick.”
“Everyone has some kind of health condition that qualified them for release. All have been vetted and it was determined they could go home. Seems if there is any group we should let remain at home, it is this group.”
Horrible! Why do they Release Dangerous Inmates?👇🏻👀
New Jersey Inmate Released Early Due to Covid is Charged with Murdering Teenager 2 Days Later https://t.co/rCwOTshNSk
— inge (@ingeallbeauty) August 13, 2021
Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums said that his organizations has been urging the Biden administration to “stop this nightmare” since January. He added:
“Thousands of people were sent home more than a year ago. They have followed the rules, reintegrated with their families, found work and are contributing to society. It makes no sense to send them back to prison.”
Meanwhile, people like Foster and Marine are trying to push ahead with their lives.
Foster, sentences for conspiracy to sell cocaine, is more optimistic than many. He stated he is encouraged by his counselor at the facility overseeing his supervision. He went to prison in 2009 and was released to home confinement on September 17, 2020. He said:
“Before prison I had a recording studio and worked with artists. I did film production and owned by own production company.”
@POTUS Biden Biden Released more than 28,000 inmates were released due to Covid.
Cornelius Haney 40 released early from Denver kills 21 yr old woman Heather Perry 3 weeks later pic.twitter.com/f5AFUXQhuk
— Landon (@Ivylgeexec) August 13, 2021
Foster said before he was imprisoned, his production company used to “feed the homeless on Sundays once a month and have can and coat drives.” Now, he said that he people he helped are doing what they can to help him.
In Ranson, Virginia, Martin spends her time waiting for a decision from the federal government at her son and daughter-in-law’s house. She seldom goes outside and enjoys preparing her Southern dishes for her family. Martin, who also spends Tuesdays and Thursdays teaching piano to her 3-year-old granddaughter, added:
“I’m very introverted. I spend time writing and talking to friends … We’re working on ‘Jingle Bells’ now and ‘Old MacDonald.’ She sings, too. The sister’s got soul.”
Martin was released to home confinement on June 2, 2020 after serving 16 years of a 30-year sentence on a drug conspiracy charge.
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Bombshell research shows prison populations fell dramatically as violence skyrocketed across America
August 17th, 2021
Violent crime and serious violent crime started to increase by 28 percent in 2015 which ran concurrent with decreasing correctional populations.
What follows are federal statistics documenting the decrease in correctional populations and the rise in violent crime.
Correctional Populations In The US-Bureau of Justice Statistics-New Data
At year-end 2019, an estimated 6,344,000 persons were under the supervision of adult correctional systems in the United States, about 65,200 fewer persons than in 2018.
The adult correctional system includes persons incarcerated in prisons and jails and persons supervised in the community on probation and parole.
This was the first time since 1999 that the correctional population dropped to less than 6.4 million. The correctional population declined by 1.0% in 2019 and has declined an average of 1.3% each year since 2009.
In 2019, the number of persons supervised by U.S. adult correctional systems (6,344,000) decreased (down 65,200 persons) for the twelfth consecutive year.
The 1.0% decline in the correctional population during 2019 was due to decreases in the community supervision (down 0.9%) and incarcerated (down 1.7%) populations.
Since 2009, the correctional population decreased by 12.4% (down 895,200 persons), an average of 1.3% annually.
At year-end 2019, about 2,480 per 100,000 adult U.S. residents were under correctional supervision, the lowest rate since 1991.
By the end of 2019, the community supervision population had dropped to 4,357,700, its lowest level in the last two decades.
All of the decrease in the community supervision population during 2019 was due to a decline in the probation population (down 47,100).
In 2019, the incarcerated population fell to 2,086,600, its lowest level since 2003.
The decline in the incarcerated population during 2019 was primarily due to a decrease in the prison population (down 33,600).
From 2009 to 2019, the parole population grew by 6.6% and was the only correctional population with an overall increase during that period, Bureau Of Justice Statistics.
Characteristics of Prison Inmates-Most Are Violent-Bureau Of Justice Statistics
More than half of sentenced males (58%) and more than a third of sentenced females (38%) were serving time in state prison for a violent offense. If you added criminal history, the percentage would increase considerably.
An estimated 14% of sentenced state prisoners were serving time for murder or non-negligent manslaughter (177,700), and another 13% were serving time for rape or sexual assault (162,700).
About 16% of sentenced state prisoners were serving time for a property offense (199,700), and 14% were serving time for a drug offense (176,300) at the end of 2018, Bureau Of Justice Statistics.
President Biden Pledged To Cut The Prison Population In Half
During the campaign, Mr. Biden stated that he wanted to release half of all prison inmates or reduce the US correctional population substantially through other means.
If the strategy is release, 700,000 mostly violent offenders could potentially be removed from prison. Release from prison is a priority of most (all?) correctional advocacy organizations.
Another way to reduce the prison population by half (or a substantial amount) is to dramatically change the way violent offenders are sentenced.
“Would you commit to cutting incarceration by 50%?” Albert asks Biden. “More than that. We can do it more than that,” he responds, President Pledges To Cut Prison Population
Violent Crime Started Increasing in 2015
We have a 28 percent increase in all violent crime (including simple assaults) per the National Crime Survey (2015-2019) with increases in serious violence.
We have a tripling of violent crime per Gallup, endless media reports of vastly increasing urban violence in 2020-2021 after the lockdowns and riots, a rise in homicides and aggravated assaults in 2019 and 2020 per the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a considerable and recent rise in homicides, aggravated assaults and robberies after the lockdowns by the University of Missouri, and considerable increases in homicides and violence by COVID and Crime.
Per FBI preliminary statistics for all of 2020, there was a 25 percent increase in homicides, overall violent crime increased by 3.3 percent, and aggravated assaults increased by 10.5 percent, Violent Crime Increases in 2020.
Major American cities saw a 33% increase in homicides last year as a pandemic swept across the country, millions of people joined protests against racial injustice and police brutality, and the economy collapsed under the weight of the pandemic — a crime surge that has continued into the first quarter of this year, Rising Urban Homicides-CNN.
Fear of crime is at its highest level in years. Firearm and security sales are skyrocketing. Per media accounts, people are leaving cities.
Early indications for 2021 suggest that violence continues to grow.
The focus of violent crime increases seems to be concentrated in American cities, US Crime Rates.
Recidivism Statistics From The Bureau Of Justice Statistics
During the five-year follow-up period, an estimated 1.1 million arrests occurred among the approximately 408,300 prisoners released in 2012.
During a nine-year follow-up in 2018, the 401,288 state prisoners released in 2005 had an estimated 1,994,000 arrests during the 9-year period, an average of 5 arrests per released prisoner.
Five out of six released offenders were rearrested; 83% were arrested within 9 years.
Prisoner arrests and incarcerations declined over time (2012-2017).
Massive rearrests on the part of released prisoners is indicative of a serious problem as to crime control. Police chiefs blaming repeat offenders are correct, Massive Arrests.
State Probation Arrests
Within 3 years 43% of state felons on probation were rearrested for a felony. Half of the arrests were for a violent crime (murder, rape, robbery, or aggravated assault) or a drug offense.
Results showed that within 3 years of sentencing, 62 percent either had a disciplinary hearing for violating a condition of their probation or were arrested for another felony.
In addition, within 3 years, 46 percent had been sent to prison or jail or had absconded.
Who is on probation? Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics, felony cases went from 50 percent of the probation population in 2005 to 57 percent in 2015, which means that probation is handling a more challenging workload, Offender Recidivism In The US.
Federal Probation-Parole Arrests
Within 3 years, nearly twice as many offenders (35%) had been arrested at least once. And, within 5 years, approximately 2 in 5 of the offenders (43%) were arrested at least once, although the type of arrests while on supervision varied by federal and nonfederal (i.e., state and local) charges, Offender Recidivism In The US.
Violent crime and serious violent crime started to increase in 2015 (after a twenty-year decline) which ran concurrently with decreasing correctional populations. The declines in the correctional population predated increases in violence.
Additional releases from prisons and jails during the pandemic were common.
There is no way of “proving” that the decrease in correctional populations contributed to the increase in violent crime.
As any criminologist will tell you, correlation does not equal causation.
But recidivism (new arrests and incarcerations) are massive and it seems probable that offenders released or in the community are contributing to increased crime and violence.
As The National Institute of Justice recently observed, “One observed change over time, the researchers found, was that participants endorsed fewer beliefs about the benefits of desistance (editor’s note, stopping criminal activity) from crime and had less belief in their independent ability to control whether they would refrain from crime going forward,” National Institute Of Justice.
In other words, offenders seemed to lose faith in their ability to resist crime.
Every police chief in the country is pointing to repeat offenders as to contributing to increased violence and crime. Statistics from the federal government suggest that they are correct.
Advocates rail against the numbers incarcerated and on those on community supervision as inhumane. I’m guessing that the victims of violent crime would disagree.
But also note that I interviewed (via radio and television shows) hundreds of successful offenders released from prison who lead crime-free lives and significantly contribute to their communities and our understanding of recidivism. Most on probation have successful (although imperfect) outcomes.
We need to remember that some offenders make the decision to change. They should be supported.
Activist sheriff declares inmates will now be called ‘residents’ to ‘humanize’ and destigmatize them
MADISON, WI – The Dane County Sheriff announced that his staff will no longer refer to prisoners as “inmates” and will instead call them “residents” or “those within our care” to “humanize” them.
— Christian Foust (@ChristianFoust) August 16, 2021
The Dane County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference Monday morning to announce the move. Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said he made the decision after talking to staff, community members, and incarcerated persons in the Dane County Jail:
“As we serve, we want to maintain dignity and respect for all who are involved in our criminal justice system.
“We will no longer refer to our incarcerated community members as ‘inmates’. Their new title will be ‘resident(s)’ or ‘those within our care.'”
During the press conference, Sheriff Barrett said that his agency considers titles as important, such as preferring peace officer rather than law enforcement officer:
“I view this change in name as a way to humanize those who are within our care.”
The Sheriff said he attended a session with Nehemiah, a Madison-based organization for those re-entering society from jail. He said the session taught him how the word inmate can have a negative meaning to both the public and the incarcerated:
“As your sheriff, I believe our philosophies, policies, and practices should be proactive and not reactionary like many other areas of our criminal justice system.
“The Dane County Sheriff’s Office is a national leader in appropriate progressive reform, and many follow our lead.”
‘Words Matter’: Dane County Sheriff’s Office to stop using term ‘inmate’ https://t.co/bjHjJhiWrZ
— 1310 WIBA (@1310WIBA) August 16, 2021
Sheriff Barrett said the change is a “small step” toward reducing barriers and could help reduce recidivism by changing how society views incarcerated people and how they view themselves.
There is no formal rule requiring staff to make the change or to use specific terms, but the Sheriff said he will work with jail leadership to create an official policy.
Sheriff Barrett was joined at the press conference by other community leaders, including Dane County Board Chair Analiese Eicher, Dane County Supervisor Maureen McCarville, and State Representative Sheila Stubbs.
— Call Me Mom (@Call_Me_Mom) August 17, 2021
Dane County has joined a growing list of prisoner advocacy groups calling for the end of the use of the term “inmate.” In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation replacing the word “inmate” with “incarcerated individual” on August 2.
State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who sponsored the bill, said he met with incarcerated individuals when he served as ranking member of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee. He said prisoners told him, “I’m a person. I’m not an inmate. I’m not a convict. I’m not a prisoner.”
Rivera said he had learned from his experience:
“That education actually led to this moment. I want to thank each and every one of them for educating me on that subject.”
MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony to pay tribute to those officers who gave their lives upholding the law was interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters shouting through a megaphone to disrupt the solemn service.
— Savethehorses (@Savethehorses3) May 11, 2021
The protesters tried to drown out the honored speakers by shouting things like, “We have a right to protest” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Video of the ceremony showed attendees and speakers trying to ignore the disruption to continue the ceremony with the protesters’ shouts heard in the background.
A male protester could be heard in the background shouting as one speaker stepped away from the stage. The man shouted:
“This is a megaphone. By the way, this is not a gun, this is a megaphone.”
LIVE: Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial https://t.co/KFG6rBUreD
— WISN 12 NEWS (@WISN12News) May 7, 2021
The protesters’ actions continued during a moment of silence in honor of the fallen officers, and the video camera turns to the man shouting at an official in the crowd.
“Can you show me how I am breaking the law by asking a question. How am I breaking the law by asking a question!”
The unidentified official appeared to be trying to get the protester to follow him away from the ceremony, but the protester became more upset:
“I decide to stand right here. I think this is a public place, I pay taxes. I get to stand here.”
The protester then set the megaphone on the ground and raised his hands over his head:
“Let me set this down before any assuming, firearm-carrying civilian decides to shoot me.”
The protester then stepped toward the official and shouted at him while rap music with lyrics like “f*** the police” was playing in the background:
“You’ve got tears coming out of my eyes. You know why? Because I have faith in people, and you’re totally disrupting my f**king balance right now. I’m begging you m*********ers to stop killing people that look like me.”
The protester was eventually led away by two uniformed officers.
Despite the protesters, the ceremony continued.
On this Peace Officer Memorial Day we salute law enforcement officers across the country and honor our nation’s fallen officers – including seven members of Wisconsin State Patrol who gave their lives in the line of duty. #NationalPoliceWeek#NeverForget pic.twitter.com/yp20K0mFjn
— WI State Patrol (@wistatepatrol) May 15, 2021
The ceremony on May 7 was held to honor those officers who have been killed in the line of duty. The pandemic prevented the ceremony from proceeding last year, so the officers added to the honor roll included 2020 and 2021.
In total, six officers’ names had to be added to the memorial located on Capitol Square in Madison. C.O.P.S. President Jo Ann Mignon said:
“For the 285 names on the wall, we tell them we will not forget you, we will never forget what you gave up for us and we will never forget everyone gathered here today.”
— Call Me Mom (@Call_Me_Mom) May 13, 2021
The officers included on the 2020 Honor Roll are:
- Darlington Police Department Chief William McGinty, who died on May 25, 1933.
- Pepin County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Officer Starre A. Miles, who died on Nov. 5, 1945.
- Milwaukee Police Department Officer Matthew J. Rittner, who died Feb. 6, 2019.
- Racine Police Department Officer John D. Hetland, who died June 17, 2019.
The officers included on the 2021 Honor Roll are:
- Milwaukee Police Department Officer Mark S. Lentz, who died on Sept. 18, 2019.
- Dane County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Richard Treadwell, who died on Aug. 22, 2020.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Deputy Treadwell died after contracting COVID-19 in what is presumed to be an on-duty exposure.
The annual Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony took place at noon today. Among those honored: Dane Co. Sheriff Deputy Rick Treadwell who passed away last August due to COVID-19 @nbc15_madison pic.twitter.com/UWtG04yB4M
— Sanika Bhargaw NBC15 (@SanikaBhargaw) May 7, 2021
Deputy Treadwell served with the Dane County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years and was assigned to the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Beginning in early 2020, thousands of law enforcement officers like Deputy Treadwell and other first responders throughout the country contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic due to the requirements of their job. Many of these first responders have died as a result of COVID-19 and continue to do so.
The Wisconsin ceremony was conducted in correlation with National Police Week.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 “National Peace Officer’s Memorial Day” and National Police Week as the calendar week which encompasses May 15. National Police Week 2021 is from May 9 until May 15.
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