Criminal Justice

White House unveils plan to bolster rehabilitation as Biden commutes sentences of 31 people

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jail door being unlocked

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The White House hopes to promote rehabilitation of incarcerated people and their reentry into society with a strategic plan released April 28.

The plan was released on the same day that President Joe Biden commuted the sentences of 31 nonviolent drug offenders who are now serving their sentences on home confinement, report Reuters, the Associated Press and the Washington Post.

Press releases are here and here.

One of the offenders had been sentenced to life in prison in 2009 for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

The commutations follow Biden’s October 2022 announcement that he was developing a procedure to pardon people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal or Washington, D.C., laws.

The new White House Alternatives, Rehabilitation and Reentry Strategic plan is a nonbinding “whole-of-government approach” to improve the criminal justice system, according to the report. Its goals include:

  • Expanding access to medications for opioid use disorder and access to a Medicaid demonstration program to improve care transitions for some incarcerated people nearing their release and also improving awareness of a Medicare special enrollment period for formerly incarcerated persons.
  • Implementing new screening procedures to reduce criminal history barriers to housing-assistance programs by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Supporting educational programs and implement changes that allow access to Pell Grants.
  • Helping former prisoners obtain access to documents that they need for state-issued identification cards.
  • Repealing or waiving bans on access to nutrition and subsistence assistance for people with prior drug felonies and also granting waivers that allow states to process applications for food benefits before the applicant leaves prison.
  • Expanding eligibility for loans from the Small Business Administration.

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