By Congressman Andy Kim and Congressman Fred Keller
Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) and Congressman Fred Keller (PA-12) released the following statement on the continued increase of COVID-19 spread in Bureau of Prison (BOP) facilities across the country. Both Congressmen Kim and Keller represent districts that are home to BOP facilities.
The coronavirus pandemic has created significant challenges for the federal prison system tasked with keeping inmates and correctional officers safe. However, it is clear that the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) COVID-19 response plan has been inadequate in containing outbreaks at a number of facilities across the country. Despite Members of Congress raising the alarm about the spread of the virus under its watch, BOP leadership has failed to effectively respond to growing outbreaks in the federal prison system.
Despite the uptick in cases in certain facilities, the BOP continues to transfer inmates between facilities, in many cases transferring COVID-19 positive inmates into new facilities, exposing staff and other personnel to the virus. It is irresponsible to continue to risk exposure through inmate transfers from various parts of the country. We firmly believe that during the coronavirus pandemic, all inmate transfers between BOP facilities should be halted in order to protect the health and well-being of inmates, as well as the thousands of BOP correctional officers across the country.
The BOP must also clearly outline, and make public, the steps that it will take to improve its response to outbreaks in its facilities. We have heard deep concerns from our constituents for the health and safety of their friends or family in federal prisons, or that serve as staff in the facilities. Every day that the BOP refuses to take action, is a day that more Americans are put at risk. We stand ready to work alongside the BOP to find common ground and solutions that will save lives.