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Monday, April 22nd, 2024

Senators seek answers from prison officials on coronavirus preparedness

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A group of U.S. Senators recently asked the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the three largest private prison operators about the procedures they have in place to manage a potential spread of the coronavirus in federal prisons.

Over 175,000 individuals are incarcerated in federal prisons and jails. Further, about 17,500 of those people are in the custody of private prison contractors, such as GEO Group, CoreCivic, and Management and Training Corporation (MTC).

According to public health experts, the uncontained spread of coronavirus in federal prisons endangers the federal prison population, correctional staff, and the general public.

“Given the spread of the virus in the U.S.–and the particular vulnerability of the prison population and correctional staff–it is critical that (you) have a plan to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus to incarcerated individuals and correctional staff, along with their families and loved ones, and provide treatment to incarcerated individuals and staff who become infected,” the senators wrote to the BOP as well as the leaders of GEO Group, CoreCivic, and Management and Training Corporation (MTC).

The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

The senators requested a response by March 16 to their question on the policies and procedures the prisons have in place.