incarceration, home confinement, mass incarceration, COVID


A prison sentence should “not include incurring a great and unforeseen risk of severe illness or death.” But for the 2.3 million people housed in our nation’s prisons and jails during the COVID-19 (“COVID”) pandemic, their sentences have included just that. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Bureau of Prisons has transferred approximately 49,068 inmates to home confinement. The decision to expand home confinement is an important one. It is a step in the right direction to address another broader, and distinctly American, issue: mass incarceration. Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have reached the consensus “that the uniquely American policy of mass incarceration is both fiscally and morally unsustainable.” If anything, the pandemic has shown we are capable of exacting meaningful change in a short period of time. The extension of home confinement demonstrates that America’s position as the world’s largest incarcerator does not have to remain the status quo. This Comment argues that we have a perfect opportunity to stretch the utility of home confinement in a way that extends beyond the pandemic and addresses our overincarceration problem.