As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the United States, many of the nation’s inmates are now being furloughed to home confinement.
It has been reported that some of the inmates who will be furloughed will serve the remainder of their sentences at home while others will be forced to return to prison at some indeterminate point, likely once the worst of the outbreak has subsided.
On its website, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) states that “since the release of the Attorney General’s original memo … on March 26, 2020 instructing us to prioritize home confinement as an appropriate response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BOP has placed an additional 1,252 inmates on home confinement.”
Two of the inmates scheduled to be furloughed are Michael Cohen, President Trump’s disgraced former lawyer, and Dean G. Skelos, the former Republican State Senate majority leader. Both men had previously been held at Otisville, a minimum security prison in New York.
According to the prison’s website, Cohen’s projected release date was November 2021.
Cohen was jailed during the special counsel’s inquiry into Russian meddling during the 2016 US election. During a congressional hearing, Cohen admitted to crimes including campaign finance violations for a scheme to pay hush money to two women who allegedly had an affair with Trump. The president has denied Cohen’s allegations.
Dean G. Skelos, meanwhile, is serving a four-year sentence for activities unearthed during a corruption investigation.
All prisoners will be held in quarantine at another medium security prison for two weeks prior to being sent to their residences. It is not yet publicly known which individuals have been deemed suitable for home confinement and which for compassionate release. A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons, Scott Taylor, said he was unable to comment on the matter.
New York is by far the hardest hit state in the country with 233,951 reported cases and a total of 17,131 deaths.
Prior to the transfer of Otisville inmates on Friday afternoon, the Otisville website reported that 16 inmates and nine staff members had already tested positive for the coronavirus.