April 18, 2024

Duckworth, Booker Reintroduce Legislation to Improve Disaster Response and Recovery Plans in Prisons


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) today re-introduced legislation that would ensure prison disaster response and recovery plans protect the health, safety and civil rights of incarcerated individuals during natural disasters and public health emergencies. The Correctional Facility Disaster Preparedness Act would require the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to provide an annual damage assessment report after a presidential disaster declaration, require the National Institute of Correction (NIC) Advisory Board to conduct a field hearing on how to better incorporate considerations for incarcerated individuals in its emergency preparedness plans and recovery efforts as well as expand NIC Advisory Board membership by permanently authorizing four new members including a formerly incarcerated individual, an emergency coordinator, a public health expert and a BOP labor union representative.

“Incarcerated individuals are particularly vulnerable during major disasters since they rely on staff to provide necessities and decide whether to evacuate to a safer location,” said Duckworth. “I’m re-introducing the Correctional Facility Disaster Preparedness Act today to help make sure that federal and state correctional agencies appropriately prioritize the health and safety of incarcerated individuals and staff during major disasters and public health emergencies by better assessing damages sustained from these disasters, taking corrective actions to resolve preparedness gaps and seeking input from professionals with emergency management and health backgrounds, as well as formerly incarcerated individuals.”

“We have seen that the response and preparedness plans currently used in our federal prisons are often inadequate, leaving incarcerated people and correctional facility staff particularly vulnerable to major disasters,” said Booker. “I’m pleased to partner with Senator Duckworth to introduce this vital legislation that would strengthen the response and preparedness plans and better protect the health, well-being, and dignity of incarcerated people during emergencies.”

The bill is supported by JustLeadershipUSA.

“We want to thank Sen. Duckworth for once again bringing the Correctional Facility Disaster Preparedness Act before Congress. This legislation is literally about the difference between life and death for people who are incarcerated. While other places of congregate living—such as nursing homes, college dormitories, hospitals, and hotels—are all required by law to have emergency plans in place for occupancy, our prisons and jails sadly are not required or mandated to have these precautions in place, which is why this is vitally important,” said DeAnna Hoskins, President and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA. “As extreme temperatures and violent weather caused by the climate crisis increase across our nation, and COVID-19 continues to harm us, it is urgent that Congress take immediate measures and pass legislation to begin taking the necessary steps to put policies and procedures in place to protect not only the valuable lives of men and women behind bars but also the correctional staff who work in those facilities.”