Six-Figure ACLU, FAMM Ad Buy Urges Biden to Issue Clemency for 4,000 People Currently on Home Confinement at Risk of Being Sent Back to Prison

August 26, 2021 12:15 pm

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ACLU Ad Calling on President Biden to Grant Clemency to People on Home Confinement

WASHINGTON — Today, the American Civil Liberties Union and Families Against Mandatory Minimums launched a broadcast ad pushing President Biden to honor his commitment to significant decarceration by immediately using his clemency power to prevent thousands of people from being needlessly sent to federal prison. The six-figure buy will run nationally on major news channels including CNN and MSNBC, as well as in the Delaware media markets during President Biden’s forthcoming Labor Day vacation.

The ad features Jesse Rodriguez, a Latinx man who was given home confinement after the CARES Act passed in March 2020. Having served nearly eight years of a 14-year prison sentence on drug charges, he is now back home in Texas serving the rest of his sentence in home confinement.

“When I was released on home confinement I didn’t believe it was really happening until the moment that I walked out of the Big Spring facility on July 15, 2020. I have a new life with a committed and supportive family. I would never have been able to do this without the opportunity that home confinement provided me and my family,” said Jesse Rodriguez. “I have full-time employment in HVAC, an active parenting role in my children’s lives, and am currently working towards a bachelor’s degree at Odessa College. To be sent back would be a disservice to myself, society, and most importantly my family.”

The Trump administration released approximately 4,000 people to serve their sentences at home under the CARES Act. The federal Bureau of Prisons determined that these individuals were low risk and were not a danger to public safety. Priority was given to people who were particularly susceptible to COVID-19 and would be safer at home than in prison. Since going home, they have reunited with families, obtained jobs, and many went back to school. Not surprisingly, according to publicly available data, less than 1 percent have violated the terms of their release once transferred to home confinement.

Despite the successes of this program, thousands of people are now in danger of being sent back to federal prison by the Biden administration. Despite public requests to rescind a memo declaring that people transferred to home confinement under the CARES Act would be sent back to prison once the national COVID emergency ended, the Department of Justice has refused to take action to keep these individuals at home. If the president refuses to act, as many as 4,000 people will be sent back to prison, which would be one of the largest single acts expanding the federal prison population to date.

“President Biden campaigned on the promise of second chances, and made it clear to the ACLU that he will be committed to reducing the federal prison population,” said Udi Ofer, director of the ACLU’s Justice Division. “Now that he is in office, the president has the opportunity to act on this commitment by using his clemency powers to correct the harms created by decades of racist policies that have led to the unjust and disproportionate incarceration of Black and Brown people. Forcing thousands of people to go back to prison would be cruel, legally unnecessary, would not make us safer, and would cost taxpayers millions of dollars. It’s time for President Biden to grant clemency to these men and women and keep them home.”

A poll released by the ACLU last year found widespread support for the president to use clemency authority to correct past injustices.

“We’re grateful to Jesse and his family for helping us show what’s at stake for thousands of families across the country,” said Kevin Ring, FAMM president. “And we’re thankful that the ACLU is going to make sure that President Biden and our political leaders can’t hide from their responsibility to keep these people home.”

The TV ad will first run on Meet the Press on Sunday, August 29th, and then begin running over the next week on CNN on Erin Burnett Out Front, The Lead with Jake Tapper and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, and on MSNBC on All in With Chris Hayes and Morning Joe.

The ad is here:

The ACLU’s poll on clemency is here:

Right-left coalition letter to President Biden asking for Clemency:

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