AFGE is calling on the Bureau of Prisons to stop transferring inmates between BOP facilities to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in federal prisons and local communities outside the prison walls.
The coronavirus pandemic is raging on in the U.S., killing more than 72,000 people and infecting over 1.2 million others. Prisons have become coronavirus hotspots. As of May 5, 2,066 federal inmates and 359 BOP staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite repeated calls from AFGE’s Council of Prison Locals, which represents more than 30,000 federal correctional workers across the country, BOP has not halted inmate transfers between prisons, most notably from institutions that have had outbreaks of COVID-19 to ones that have not had any confirmed cases of the virus in either staff or inmates.
“These transfers pose a threat not only to the correctional officers on the front lines of this pandemic, but also to their families and the communities where they work and live,” said AFGE President Everett Kelley in a May 5 letter to BOP Director Michael Carvajal. “The risk of introducing COVID-19 into an unaffected population is especially acute in many rural communities where our BOP institutions are located, places not equipped with negative pressure rooms and where local hospital infrastructure could be quickly overwhelmed, putting members of the community at risk.”
AFGE’s Council of Prison Locals also has repeatedly raised concerns with wardens about proper Personal Protective Equipment for correctional officers, the lack of adequate testing and screening, and the introduction of COVID-19 into previously unaffected facilities and geographic areas as a result of these continuing inmate transfers.
“In order to help protect the 30,000 dedicated correctional officers, their families and their communities, we urge you to take immediate action, in accordance with your authority as Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and halt inmate transfers,” added the AFGE president.