Norton Calls on U.S. Parole Commission to Use Its Authority to Protect D.C. Residents and Others Under its Jurisdiction During Coronavirus Pandemic
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today sent a letter to the United States Parole Commission (USPC) urging it to use its authority to protect, and in some cases release, individuals under its jurisdiction in light of the coronavirus. The vast majority of individuals under USPC’s jurisdiction are D.C. residents.
“The U.S. Parole Commission has the authority to release certain inmates, such as those being held for technical supervision violations,” Norton said. “The Commission should use its authority to ensure the health of inmates, staff and the public.”
Norton’s letter follows:
March 20, 2020
The Honorable Patricia Cushwa
United States Parole Commission
90 K Street NE
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Chair Cushwa:
I write to express my deep concern about the health of individuals under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Parole Commission (USPC) – the vast majority of whom are District of Columbia residents – in light of the coronavirus. As you know, prisons and jails likely are high-risk environments for transmission of the coronavirus. During this public health emergency, USPC has the authority to protect the health of individuals under its jurisdiction without jeopardizing public safety. I ask that USPC take the following actions:
1. Suspend the issuance of any new USPC warrants;
2. Direct the U.S. Marshal Service to hold in abeyance the execution of any already-issued USPC warrants;
3. Release all individuals awaiting USPC revocation hearings on technical violations, misdemeanor arrests, non-violent arrests or any criminal arrests that have been no papered, dismissed or acquitted in court;
4. Reinstate parole for all individuals in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) who were revoked for technical violations, misdemeanor arrests, nonviolent arrests or any criminal arrests that have been no papered, dismissed or acquitted in court;
5. Reinstate to parole or supervised release all individuals in the jail or BOP custody who are 60 years old or older;
6. Reinstate to parole or supervised release all individuals currently in custody with medical conditions or disabilities that impact their immune systems, respiratory functioning, heart functioning or mobility, or otherwise make them especially vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus;
7. Parole all individuals who qualify for medical or geriatric parole; and
8. Release straight to parole all individuals granted parole but awaiting release dates.
Importantly, these actions would not affect the authority of prosecutors or courts from charging or holding individuals, respectively, for new crimes. I ask that you respond to this letter in writing immediately.
Eleanor Holmes Norton