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Covington and Council for Court Excellence Secure Aid for DC Prisoners in COVID-19 Relief Legislation

April 7, 2020

On April 7, 2020, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a second emergency COVID-19 relief bill, which, among other provisions, enacts prison reform legislation advanced by the Council for Court Excellence (CCE) and GW Law’s Prisoner and Reentry Clinic, and drafted by Covington.

Section 305 of the COVID-19 relief bill allows DC prisoners, who are not a danger to public safety, to accumulate good time credits toward early release. The bill also expands the District's compassionate release program, allowing inmates over 60, or those who have terminal illnesses or chronic medical conditions, to file motions for early release.

Covington and CCE began working together on the proposed legislation following the enactment of the federal First Step Act and before the coronavirus pandemic hit. However, the spread of COVID-19 in DC prisons pressed the need to address the existing inequities in the District’s early release programs.

Since the DC law was enacted in April, CCE reports that at least four people have been released either on revised good time or on a compassionate release order.

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