Skip to Content

Press Releases

The Congressional Black Caucus Expresses Disappointment in Preferential Treatment of Manafort

f t # e
Washington, May 20, 2020 | comments

As the spread of coronavirus in America continues to impact communities of color, the effect on the prison system has been widely underscored. Inmates and staff have been exposed to COVID-19 at alarming rates, with minimal relief, despite the directive to reduce prison populations by releasing low-risk offenders. However, when the release of Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Trump, takes priority over the needs of everyone else, it is evident that the executive powers have been compromised. Prisons and jails across our country have become hotspots for the virus., but the facility in which Paul Manafort was incarcerated had no record of any cases. President Trump continues to use his position and power to protect his friends and loyalists. This is just another example of his continued abuse of power. 

Since the beginning of this health crisis, the Congressional Black Caucus has called for the protection of prisoners, including the release of low-risk individuals. Despite the directive of Attorney General William P. Barr for the early release of prisoners in hard hit states, such as Louisiana, Connecticut and Ohio, there are still thousands who have yet to be released. Full execution of this order would depopulate many of the prisons, which are already over capacity, and limit the spread within these facilities.

The Congressional Black Caucus is calling on the Department of Justice to:

  1. Prioritize releasing incarcerated individuals in prisons, jails, and detention centers through clemency commutations, and compassionate release;

  2. Allow immediate temporary release to home confinement of individuals who are at low risk threat to the community, but to whom COVID-19 is a high-risk threat, which should automatically include (1) pregnant women, (2) adults over the age of 55, and (3) those with severe medical conditions, but could extend to those who are near to completing their sentence, low-risk offenders, and those who have not begun their sentence unless they pose a risk of serious injury to a reasonably identifiable person; and

  3. Agree that solitary confinement is not medical care and establish a Medical Emergency Plan with designated housing areas, including the tracking of all suspected cases of COVID-19 and available hospital beds and necessary equipment, the hiring of medical professionals capable of responding to COVID-19 inside facilities, and the development of a plan to transfer those who need intensive care to hospitals.

This cannot be left to the discretion of the BOP to determine who comes home. The Department of Justice must ensure that this process is swift and efficient for all, not just for Paul Manafort.

f t # e

Connect with the CBC

Stay connected with the CBC and get news directly to your inbox.