Blog Article 

 CARES Act and COVID and Federal Prison 

Michael Santos

Michael Santos

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With the anticipation of a rise in COVID cases during the winter of 2022, people going into the federal prison system should update their knowledge of the CARES Act and how it influences people in federal prison.

In 2020, at the start of the COVID pandemic, the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons began implementing changes. People living in prison cannot practice all the safety protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. With the CARES Act, the Attorney General issued a Memorandum with guidance for the Bureau of Prisons. 

Over subsequent months, the Bureau of Prisons issued a series of other Memorandums wardens could use as a guide. Wardens should assess the following factors to determine a person’s suitability for transfer to home confinement:

  1. Does the person have a clean disciplinary record?
  2. Does the person have a verifiable release plan?
  3. Does the person have a history of violence?
  4. Does the person have a detainer?
  5. Does the person’s security level advance him as a viable candidate for transition to home confinement?
  6. Does the person have a PATTERN score that makes him a viable candidate for transition to home confinement?
  7. Does the person’s age and vulnerability to COVID-19, according to the CDC guidelines, make him a reasonable candidate?

Besides those seven factors that administrators must consider, the BOP decided to prioritize specific people for consideration as “priority” candidates for transition to home confinement under the CARES Act:

  • People who have served 50% or more of their sentences, and
  • People who meet the dual criteria of serving at least 25% of their sentences and also are within 18 months of their release date.
  • People who are pregnant.

People may click this link to review the memorandum.

  • Memo on Home Confinement pursuant to CARES Act from Bureau of Prisons

COVID Expectations: October, 2022

More than two years have passed since the President signed the CARES Act. It has been extended twice. In March, 2022, the White House published a document to help people understand the plan going forward:

  • National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
  • https://prisonprofessors.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/NAT-COVID-19-PREPAREDNESS-PLAN.pdf

Then, in October, we saw the White House publish new information that let us know more about the nation’s COVID plan:

COVID plan: https://www.whitehouse.gov/covidplan/

According to reporting on the plan:

The US should prepare for a spike in COVID cases this winter as more people gather indoors and infections already begin to rise in Europe, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator tell us.

Infections have risen in many European countries, such as England, France, and Italy. Leading researchers tell us that we should expect the same:

“In the past, what’s happened in Europe often has been a harbinger for what’s about to happen in the United States,” says Michael Osterholm. He serves as the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “So I think the bottom line message for us in this country is: We have to be prepared for what they are beginning to see in Europe.”

People going into the federal prison system may want to cite this information when applying for consideration for a transition to home confinement under the guidance of the CARES Act. It’s always important to remember that although leaders in the Bureau of Prisons have the discretion to transfer people to home confinement, they do not have to exercise that discretion.

How to Apply for CARES Act Relief:

The first step for people who want to request under CARES would be to assess whether they’re viable candidates. We encourage people to use the points above. If they meet the essential guidelines, then people should work toward building a verifiable release plan. We offer guidance on how to create an excellent release plan. For those who have interest, please click the following link:

  • Release Plan, with Samples and Templates

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