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NAACP Issues Statement on Manafort Release from Federal Prison Due to COVID-19

Washington, D.C. (May 13, 2020) – Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, made the following statement about today’s release of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from federal prison based on concerns about COVID-19. “Mr. Manafort was released from federal prison to serve the remainder of his seven-year term for bank and tax fraud in home confinement. Mr. Manafort, who is 71-years-old, had served one-third of his sentence and the prison where he was living has no confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Bureau of Prisons has indicated that it is ‘prioritizing for consideration’ for home release those persons who have served more than half of their sentence or who have 18 months or less of their sentence remaining. Mr. Manafort met neither of these criteria. Mr. Manafort cannot be the exception. We call upon the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons to immediately release more persons in federal custody who are under severe threat of exposure to COVID-19. There are approximately 140,000 persons serving in federal prisons. Due to longstanding racial disparities and systemic racism in the criminal justice system, 38 percent of this population is African American. To date, nearly 3,000 persons in federal prisons have contracted COVID-19 and 50 persons have died. There are confirmed COVID-19 cases at 52 facilities operated by the Bureau of Prisons. As Congress prepares the next stimulus package, a portion of resources should be conditioned on implementing decarceration measures to save the health and lives of those currently in federal custody. Congress must continue the work it began in its First Step Act because the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons have failed to meet their responsibilities to reduce harm to federally incarcerated people. It is imperative we expand the use of home confinement and compassionate release for older offenders and nonviolent offenders. Every incarcerated person should be able to receive the same justice as Paul Manafort.”

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