May 18, 2020

Duckworth, Durbin, Grassley, McKinley, Bustos Secure COVID-19 Testing for BOP Inmate Transfer; Eight BOP Locations Removed from Quarantine List


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Congressman David McKinley (WV-1), and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), announced today that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), in coordination with the United States Marshall Service (USMS), will now test all inmates for COVID-19 prior to transferring them to BOP quarantine sites. Further, eight BOP locations have been removed from the list of BOP quarantine sites.

The locations that will no longer be quarantine sites are: USP Thomson, Illinois; FCI Gilmer, West Virginia; FCC Hazelton, West Virginia; FCC Terre Haute, Indiana; FCI Ray Brook, New York; FCI El Reno, Oklahoma; FDC Houston, Texas; and FCI Fairton, New Jersey.

The announcement follows a bipartisan, bicameral letter to BOP Director Michael Carvajal and U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) Director Donald Washington, led by the lawmakers last week, which raised questions about the dangers of transferring asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic inmates between facilities.

“After calling for COVID-19 testing for all newly-admitted inmates prior to transfer, we are encouraged by USMS’s and BOP’s new policy. Testing every inmate and ensuring they are negative for COVID-19 before transferring them to quarantine sites is the right decision for inmates, staff and local communities. We urge BOP to also test every inmate in BOP’s custody and confirm they are negative for COVID-19 prior to transferring them to another BOP facility, whether from a quarantine site or other BOP institution.

“Additionally, the elimination of eight locations from the BOP-designated quarantine list is another step in the right direction to protect inmates and staff from the spread of COVID-19. The safety and health of inmates and staff must be BOP’s top priority.

“These changes in BOP’s policy are good news. However, we remain concerned by the ongoing staffing shortages affecting BOP institutions, including USP Thomson. We are committed to working with BOP to address the staffing shortages at USP Thomson and other facilities and once again call on BOP to prioritize hiring additional staff to meet the needs of their institutions, particularly during this crisis.”

Several of the lawmakers have previously cited concerns about BOP’s failure to implement a sufficient screening process that included testing.