Saturday during an interview with MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), a member of the liberal congressional foursome known as “The Squad,” argued now may be the time to commute sentences of some federal prisoners given their vulnerability to coronavirus.
Pressley said she and other congressional Democrats were lobbying the Bureau of Prisons for “compassionate” releases.
“[W]hen we are talking about our most vulnerable, our low-income residents and those experiencing homelessness, our seniors and that we are also including the incarcerated men and women, who are amongst one of the most vulnerable populations and given the crowding and overpopulating in our prisons for a confluence of other reasons we won’t get into in this interview, Rev., buy you are certainly well aware of, are an ecosystem and a petri dish for the spreading of this pandemic, which is why I partnered with my colleagues, Representatives [Nydia] Velázquez, [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez and [Rashida] Tlaib, to lobby the Bureau of Prisons to use their full power to communicate guidance for how we will contain and mitigate this epidemic behind the wall.”
“Specifically, do they have access to testing? Secondly, has anyone tested positive, and what are the quarantine measures? Again given the overpopulating and the fact that many of these facilities are already subpar and that incarcerated men and women do not have access to soap, to alcohol-based hand sanitizers — and to regular showers, what is the guidance for those incarcerated and for staff? And that the B.O.P. Use their full powers, I think now would be the time to commute some sentences, to exact clemency and to take care of our most our vulnerable. Ten percent of those incarcerated are over the age of 60 and already have an underlying condition. We should be using compassionate release.”