House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wants the release of federal prisoners during the coronavirus outbreak — and she is using the Bible to make her case.
MSNBC host Joy Reid asked Pelosi on Sunday whether releasing prisoners will be a part of future COVID-19 relief legislation. In response, Pelosi cited a well-known biblical parable.
"In our caucus, we are very devoted to the Gospel of Matthew," Pelosi responded, going on to quote the parable.
"'When I was hungry, you fed me. When I was homeless, you sheltered me. When I was in prison, you visited me,' and so this for us is part of our value system," she said.
The parable, found in Matthew 25, tells about the separation of sheep and goats at the end of time. Traditionally, the parable is interpreted to mean that the people whom Jesus refers to as "sheep" are true Christians who receive "eternal life" and those whom he refers to as "goats" are people who will receive "eternal punishment."
The parable is often invoked by those advocating social justice to demonstrate the significance that Jesus placed on carrying out justice for vulnerable and marginalized people.
Pelosi said the House Judiciary Committee is developing legislative "language" that will secure the release of some federal prisoners "who really don't need to be there."
The COVID-10 pandemic has resulted in the release of hundreds of thousands of prisoners around the world, according to the New York Times, including thousands in the United States.
Prisoners are particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus due to the proximity in which they live to dozens of other inmates.
The Bureau of Prisons released updated guidance last week on which prisoners would be eligible for release or revised confinement during the COVID-19 outbreak. Politico reported that home confinement is being considered only for inmates who have less than 18 months remaining on their sentence.