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CARES Act provides $1 billion to federal courts, prisons

The $2.2 trillion rescue package signed into law on Friday provides more than $1 billion to manage criminal-justice needs arising from COVID-19.

The CARES Act allocates money for telework, personal-protective equipment and overtime arising from the pandemic. It also temporarily allows for video and phone conferencing for criminal proceedings.

Emergency appropriations for coronavirus health response and agency operations

The American Bar Association said the money may cover overtime costs, personal-protective equipment, medical costs and improving telework capabilities.

General provisions for the judiciary

General provisions for the Bureau of Prisons

  • Provides for personal-protective equipment and coronavirus-test kits
  • Allows Director of the Bureau to lengthen the maximum amount of time a prisoner can be placed in home confinement
  • Director of the Bureau may allow inmates to conduct visitation through video and phone conferencing, free of charge to inmates, during the emergency period.

In a statement on Friday, ABA president Judy Perry Martinez said the organization was encouraged that the CARES Act includes the provisions for prisons and expands the use of home detention and electronic monitoring.

“The availability of these alternatives to incarceration should be considered particularly for individuals whose cases are still pending,” Martinez said.

The ABA had also called for provisions to increase access to release for older and ill patients, and Martinez said the organization was disappointed the act does not include them.

The CARES Act also allocates billions of dollars to small businesses through loans, grants and tax breaks. Americans will receive $1,200 payments, and many workers affected by the pandemic will receive increased benefits.

About Michaela Paukner,

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at

One comment

  1. Does this mean that Wisconsin is not even considering sending elderly and sick prisoners home to a safe setting?

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