ACLU Responds to President Biden’s Clemency Announcement
WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden heeded the recommendations of the American Civil Liberties Union by granting clemency to some of the people in federal custody who were released to home confinement at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic under the CARES Act.
The ACLU has advocated for categorical clemency for all people released to home confinement under the CARES Act.
Many of the 31 people granted clemency today were those whose sentences would have been less severe if they were charged under current drug laws.
Today’s announcement comes at the end of what is recognized as Second Chance Month — which brings awareness to the barriers to re-entry faced by directly impacted people and the scarcity of second chances through clemency.
Cynthia W. Roseberry, acting director of the Justice Division at the American Civil Liberties Union, issued the following statement:
“We are thrilled to hear today’s news that 31 people will be remain free. That means 31 families will stay together, and 31 communities will not again be separated from a beloved neighbor. We celebrate this small but important step for the message it sends about the power of redemption and second chances.
“Tonight, every person who has been granted clemency can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they will be able to remain at home, with their families, at their jobs, and continue contributing to their communities. These clemency recipients can now celebrate their freedom instead of fearing an unnecessary return to federal prison. We all benefit when we help families and communities stay together.
“Today’s actions by President Biden advance the goals of the Redemption Campaign: to reunite families, to provide second chances, and to liberate 50,000 people from prisons across America. We are optimistic about what today’s announcement signals for additional categorical releases of people, especially those charged with crack cocaine offenses, who are unjustifiably imprisoned.”
Today’s announcement comes after concerted efforts by the ACLU’s Redemption Campaign, which has advocated for President Biden to grant clemency to people living in home confinement as a result of the CARES Act.
The CARES Act, passed in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, authorized the federal Bureau of Prisons to allow people to serve their sentences at home to mitigate the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic in federal prisons.
Public polling conducted by the ACLU in 2021 showed widespread, bipartisan support for clemency for people serving their sentences at home as a result of the CARES Act. The ACLU also partnered with Families against Mandatory Minimums on a six-figure ad campaign to push President Biden to use his clemency authorities to give commutations to people on CARES Act home confinement.
ACLU petition for clemency for people released to home confinement under the CARES Act:
ACLU press release for polling showing support for clemency for people released to home confinement under the CARES Act: https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/aclu-poll-shows-broad-bipartisan-support-biden-grant-clemency-people-transferred-home
ACLU press release announcing ad buy supporting clemency for people released to home confinement under the CARES Act: https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/six-figure-aclu-famm-ad-buy-urges-biden-issue-clemency-4000-people-currently-home
ACLU Statement on Biden Administration Decision to Rescind Trump-Era Memo on Home Confinement: https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/aclu-statement-biden-administrations-decision-rescind-trump-era-memo-home-confinement
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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.