April 20, 2020
Two inmates at San Pedro’s Terminal Island federal prison have died of coronavirus, with 33 positive cases at the prison as of yesterday. Nationwide, 22 federal inmates have died od coronavirus. All federal inmates displaying signs of COVID-19 are being placed in isolation.
In memos, Attorney General William Barr has issued the following directives to the Bureau of Prisons and US Attorneys regarding federal inmates:
March 26, 2019 Memo prioritizing home confinement as appropriate in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The March 26 memo discusses several discretionary factors to consider, including:
the inmate’s age and whether the inmate has pre-existing health conditions increasing the risk of COVID-19;
the security level of the institution, with preference given to inmates at low and minimum security facilities;
the inmate’s conduct in prison, with inmates who committed violent or gang-related conduct or incurred a BOP violation in the last year not receiving priority;
whether the inmate has a verifiable re-entry plan that will prevent recidivism and promote public safety;
the inmate’s crime of conviction, and danger posed to the community, with sex offenses rendering inmate ineligible for home detention.
Attorney General Barr’s April 3 memorandum permits transfer of any and all "vulnerable" federal inmates to home confinement, to be selected by BOP wardens on an institution by institution basis. The memo requires consideration of public safety risk, but eliminates age- and offense-related restrictions, and limitations on duration, that were previously included in the home confinement program. The memo allows but does not require electronic monitoring for home confinement.
There are templates for motions to challenge the continued pretrial confinement of both at-risk clients, and non-“high risk” clients. One can argue that continued detention violates the 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments and violates international human rights law prohibiting cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
For more information about this post, contact Margolin & Lawrence.