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Justice Roundtable Letter to Congressional Leaders

May 5, 2020

The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader

United States Senate, Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer,  Minority Leader

United States Senate, Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker  

United States House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader                                                   United States House of Representatives,  Washington, DC 20515

(Transmitted by Email) 

RE: Adopt provisions to protect, release, and support reentry of incarcerated people in the COVID-19 response package.


Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, and Minority Leader McCarthy:


The undersigned organizations urge you to include in the COVID-19 response package under development now provisions to protect, release, and support reentry of incarcerated people.  In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals incarcerated in and working at U.S. prisons, jails, and detention centers face a public health crisis due to existing unsanitary and overcrowded conditions of confinement. For the past two months, medical and public health experts have called for reductions in incarceration levels to limit overcrowding and protect those individuals in custody who are at high risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19.

While selected releases have occurred at the federal, state and local level, the actions have been insufficient.  Attached, please find for your review a short summary of specific recommendations for Congress to undertake to accomplish these imperatives.


Incarcerated people and correctional staff remain uniquely vulnerable to infection and failure to reduce incarceration rates overall have resulted in COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths in correctional facilities nationwide. To fully respond to COVID-19, Congress must take immediate action to protect individuals who are incarcerated and working at correctional facilities; incentivize states and localities to reduce the number of incarcerated people and ensure that federal and tribal facilities do the same; and support safe reentry upon release.


If Congress does not respond to the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks at incarceration and detention facilities, it will increase the damage that COVID-19 will wreak on countless lives, impacting families and communities nationwide.  It also will prevent the U.S. from fully overcoming the domestic COVID-19 epidemic as individuals both working at and incarcerated in correctional facilities continue to travel between these facilities and the community without support.


Thank you for your time and consideration of this important issue.  If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Justice Roundtable Reentry Working Group Co-Chair Jenny Collier at, Justice Roundtable Sentencing Reform Working Group Co-Chair Kara Gotsch at, or Justice Roundtable Convener Nkechi Taifa at





African American Juvenile Justice Project

Akron Votes

Aleph Institute

Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare

Black Family Summit

Braxton Institute

Bread for the World

Campaign for Youth Justice

CAN-DO Foundation

Center for American Progress

Center for Disability Rights

Center for Law and Social Policy

Church of Scientology National Affairs Office

Coalition for Juvenile Justice

Community Catalyst

Community Healing Network, Inc.

Criminalization of Poverty Project at IPS

CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants)


Demand Justice

Drug Policy Alliance

Equal Justice USA

Greater Akron Canton Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers

Health in Justice Action Lab, Northeastern University

Heartland Alliance

HIRE Network

Human Rights for Kids

Innocence Project

Just Futures Law

Justice For Families

Justice Policy Institute

Justice Strategies

Juvenile Justice Coalition

Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Legal Action Center

Little Piece of Light

Mental Health America


National Action Network

National Association for Rural Mental Health

National Association of Black Social Workers

National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

National Association of Social Workers

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Council of Churches

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-Maryland Chapter

National Crittenton

National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)

National Equality Action Team

National Juvenile Defender Center

National Low Income Housing Coalition

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

Operation Restoration

Parent Watch

Pathways to Reentry Committee of the ReThink Justice Coalition

ReThink Justice Coalition

Richmond Association of Black Social Workers

Safer Foundation

Strategies for Youth

Students for Sensible Drug Policy

The Association of Black Psychologists, Inc.

The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

The Daniel Initiative

The Justice Roundtable

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Sentencing Project

The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society

Treatment Communities of America

Tzedek Association

Union for Reform Judaism

Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)






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