AFGE BOP Council: BOP’s Refusal to Test Correctional Officers for COVID-19 Is Irresponsible

Categories: BOP, The Insider, Coronavirus

As of June 10, 2,134 federal inmates and 190 Bureau of Prisons staff have tested positive for COVID-19. The BOP, however, has never tested employees for exposure to the coronavirus and has no plans to test them in the future.  

In fact, BOP Medical Director Jeffrey Allen defended the agency’s decision not to test officers and staff for COVID-19 at a recent Senate hearing. Allen told lawmakers that testing employees would limit the agency’s ability to provide health care to inmates. He said employees instead would need to be tested through state and local health departments.  

That didn’t sit well with AFGE Council of Prison Locals President Shane Fausey, who was offended by Allen’s comments. 

“His prioritization of inmate care without regard to the health and safety of our employees is repulsive and is not indicative of supporting the agency’s ‘most valuable resource,’” said Fausey, who represents 30,000 federal correctional officers and staff nationwide. “The BOP's expectation, under Dr. Allen’s advice and direction, to relegate their workplace safety obligations upon local and state government agencies is irresponsible and objectionable.”  

The BOP doesn’t seem to worry about the spread of the coronavirus among staff. In fact, they want employees who’ve tested positive to return to work as soon as possible without making sure they are free of the virus. The agency also initially denied workers health and safety leave, forcing them to take their own sick leave. Thanks to pressure from the council, the agency now allows paid emergency leave under a new COVID-19 response law. 

“The Bureau of Prisons should prioritize the voluntary testing of all employees, especially utilizing all assets within the agency itself, without delay,” the council president added. 

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