The US federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana (AFP Photo/SCOTT OLSON)More

Washington (AFP) – US Attorney General Bill Barr said Thursday he had instructed federal prisons to free some inmates to lessen the impact of the coronavirus epidemic.

One day after the United Nations human rights chief urged countries to protect people held in overcrowded jails and other enclosed facilities, Barr said he had encouraged US prisons to release qualified inmates.

“I’ve asked and issued a memorandum just today to the Bureau of Prisons to increase the use of home confinement, based on a number of factors… particularly for those older prisoners who have served substantial parts of their sentences,” Barr said.

He said the instruction was focused on prisoners who are not considered dangerous and who

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