A.G. Barr Promises Release Of More Federal Prisoners For COVID-19 Protection — But Will Rush Americans Back To Work At Our Peril
The partisan U.S. response to a global pandemic means a nation divided, with one segment of the population fighting to continue social distancing practices and keep nonessential businesses shut down for a longer period, and another segment protesting, calling the virus response a hoax and demanding reopen and a return to normal. President Trump has spoken in support of protestors, and calls for the first steps in a phased reopening. Attorney General William Barr, too, is acting to restore normal economic and social activity. At the same time, he’s moving to release more Federal prisoners, for their own protection.
Barr has threatened legal action against states and local governments over stay-at-home and social distancing orders that he says may violate civil rights. However, as PBS reports, experts say that more testing availability is needed for a reopen to be safe, and most people don’t yet feel safe returning to work and sending their kids back to school.
Even as Trump and Barr promote economic choices that experts say could be devastating to public health, the administration is moving to protect some of the most vulnerable federal prisoners. In a Justice Department Q&A Friday, Barr said that over 5,000 inmates who are in the most danger from COVID-19, and who are judged not to be a danger to the community, have been released to home confinement. Another 1,000 releases are being processed.
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) May 1, 2020
“We take the safety of our inmates very seriously,” Barr says.
The Justice Department is responsible for the safety of those incarcerated within it and is responding to a global pandemic with actions to protect some of the most vulnerable prisoners. However, at the same time, the U.S. government — with Barr’s vocal support — may be making decisions that endanger the most vulnerable populations across the nation.