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‘Squad’ Member Uses Coronavirus Crisis to Push ‘Compassionate Release’ of Prisoners

‘Many incarcerated men and women do not have access to soap, to alcohol-based hand sanitizers, to regular showers…’

(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., a member of Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez’s “Squad,” advocated for the “compassionate release” of prisoners as the coronavirus spreads.

“I think now would be the time, to commute some sentences, to exact clemency and to take care of our most vulnerable. Ten percent of those incarcerated are over the age of 60 and already have an underlying condition. We should be using compassionate release,” Pressley told MSNBC.

Overcrowded prisons are a “Petri dish” for the virus, she continued, noting that she and the other “Squad” members are already lobbying the Bureau of Prisons to take action and release prisoners.

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“Given the overpopulating and the fact that many of these facilities are already subpar and that many incarcerated men and women do not have access to soap, to alcohol-based hand sanitizers, to regular showers, what is the guidance, both for those incarcerated and for staff?” she said.

Releasing prisoners, some of whom have violent histories, would only make a bad problem worse, as Republican lawmakers have frequently warned. Even nonviolent felons pose a potential problem, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., argued when the Trump administration was first considering the First Step Act, which released thousands of federal offenders.

Less than a year later, two felons released under the First Step Act found themselves back in prison. The first criminal was arrested for trafficking thousands of dollars of meth, and the second was arrested for stabbing a man to death.

“Most important, when there are manifest injustices in individual cases, the proper course of justice is not to simply let out thousands of serious felons,” Cotton said last year.

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