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March 27, 2020

Statement of ABA President Judy Perry Martinez Re: Provisions for prisons and jails in COVID-19 economic stimulus package

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2020 – Prisons and jails are some of the highest-risk environments for the spread of COVID-19. The ABA is encouraged that the COVID-19 economic stimulus package approved by Congress includes provisions to allow prisons greater access to personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing materials. The ABA is further encouraged by the bill’s provisions that expand use of home detention and electronic monitoring. The availability of these alternatives to incarceration should be considered particularly for individuals whose cases are still pending.

The ABA is disappointed the bill fails to include provisions to increase access to release for older and infirm prisoners, but commends a separate action taken by the Department of Justice which directs federal prison authorities to identify elderly and medically compromised inmates for home confinement.

The ABA also applauds state and local prosecutors, courts, law enforcement officers and corrections officers who are seeking practical alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders, especially during this national emergency.

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