UNITED STATES−The Director of the U.S. Department of Bureau of Prisons (BOP) announced on Tuesday, March 31, the implementation of Phase 5 of its COVID-19 Action plan starting April 1. Due to health concerns, inmates in every federal institution will be secured in their assigned cells or quarters for the next 14 days.
Inmates will have access to programs and services such as mental health treatment and education that are offered under normal circumstances “to the extent practicable.”
The BOP is coordinating with the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) to decrease incoming movement, limiting the number of people coming into the facilities from the outside.
Limited group activities will be afforded to the extent practical to allow for trips to the commissary, laundry, showers, telephone, and access to Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System(TRULINCS).
In January 2020, the BOP implemented its Pandemic Influenza contingency plan, now modified as an Action Plan for COVID-19. The action plan is updated as a result to follow the advice of the experts from the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control along with the Office of Personnel Management.
In addition, the BOP implemented preventive measures on March 26, to all newly admitted inmates into a screening process regardless, if the individual was in a community transition area or not. Those inmates will remain in isolation until they test negative for COVID-19.
While the BOP is attempting to stop the spread of the coronavirus by isolating prisoners, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Calfornia Governor Gavin Newsom are commuting sentences for prisoners
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced a bill demanding the release of thousands stating: “For [those] thousands of people behind bars, contracting COVID-19 is tantamount to a death sentence.”
The BOP will reevaluate after the 14-day period, and a decision will be made rather facilities will be able to return to normal operating procedures.