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Afternoon Briefs: Chinese human rights lawyer released; AG Barr orders increased home confinement

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Chinese human rights lawyer is released from prison

Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang has been released from prison after nearly five years in custody, according to his wife, Li Wenzu. Wang had represented political activists, Falun Gong defendants and victims of land seizures. He was arrested in 2015 and sentenced in 2019 to four and a half years in prison for “subversion of state power.” (The New York Times)

Attorney General Barr orders federal prisons to increase home confinement

U.S. Attorney General William Barr ordered federal prisons Friday to increase and speed up use of home confinement for the most vulnerable inmates at facilities most affected by COVID-19. Barr said he was acting under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which allows him to expand the kinds of inmates eligible for release. (Politico, the Associated Press, Barr’s directive)

First federal inmate to die from COVID-19 had sought early release

Patrick Jones, a 49-year-old inmate who unsuccessfully sought release under the First Step Act, was the first federal prisoner to die from COVID-19. Jones had written to the judge that he would like the chance to help raise his son. “I feel that my conviction and sentence was also a punishment that my child has had to endure,” Jones had written. Jones said he was “caring, hardworking, free and clean of drugs and a lot smarter now, with a balanced outlook on life.” Jones had been sentenced in 2007 to 27 years in prison for selling cocaine. His lengthy sentence was partly due to his residence near a junior college in Texas and partly because of lengthier sentences for crack cocaine. The judge who denied release under the First Step Act cited Jones’ past crimes for burglaries as a teen and drug sales to an undercover officer. Jones died March 28. (NBC News, Reason, the Marshall Project)

County official vows to clear MLK’s arrest record

Martin Luther King Jr.’s arrest record in Fulton County, Georgia, will be expunged, according to Keith Gammage, the county’s solicitor general. Gammage has already cleared the arrest records of more than 3,000 people who faced low-level and nonviolent charges. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via the Marshall Project, WABE)

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