January 21, 2022

Congresswomen Watson Coleman and Bush Call on Federal Bureau of Prisons to Not Require Individuals in Home Confinement to Return to Prison

Today, Congresswomen Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and Cori Bush (MO-01) sent a letter to Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Michael Carvajal asking how the BOP plans to enforce a policy allowing incarcerated individuals to remain in home confinement instead of returning to prison. In December 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) directed the BOP to allow incarcerated individuals placed in home confinement through the CARES Act to remain there.

The letter begins:

We write to you today to commend the Department of Justice for issuing the Office of Legal Counsel Memo that states that the Federal Bureau of Prisons is not required to recall individuals placed on home confinement through the CARES Act to prison after the federal health emergency ends. As members of Congress with many constituents who will be impacted by this decision, we also write seeking further clarification on how this policy will be implemented.

Watson Coleman and Bush urged the BOP to closely follow the DOJ’s directive and ensure that no affected individual will be forced to return to prison. The Congresswomen hope that this policy, if enforced properly, may reduce our country’s high prison population.

The letter requests answers to the following questions:

1.     How does the Bureau plan to implement the new OLC memo that was issued on December 21, 2021? Specifically, does the Bureau intend to allow all affected individuals to serve the remainder of their sentences on home confinement? If not, on what basis would the Bureau require individuals to return to prison?

2.     Can the Bureau provide data on the factors it will consider when granting an extension of those on home confinement? We request transparency in knowing the data on those eligible/allowed to stay on home confinement for the duration of their sentences.

3.     Has the Bureau notified all the individuals impacted by this new OLC memo? What information has the Bureau provided to those impacted by the new policy?

4.     With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, will the Bureau continue to use its jurisdiction under the CARES Act to allow other individuals to go on home confinement to reduce the spread of the virus?

5.     Can the Bureau provide a briefing to both Members of Congress and their staffs on how they plan to implement and move forward with the new OLC memo?


Watson Coleman and Bush requested that Director Carvajal answer their questions by February 7, 2022.

The letter is cosigned by Reps. Kelly Armstrong (ND-At Large), Karen Bass (CA-37), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), André Carson (IN-07), Judy Chu (CA-27), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA-04), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Grace Meng (NY-06), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Adam Smith (WA-09), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), David Trone (MD-06) and Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24).