UPDATE: BOP inmate transferred tested for COVID-19, Rep. Keller renews call to halt transfers

After BOP inmate moved to FCC Allenwood gets tested for COVID-19, Congressman Fred Keller renews call to halt inmate movement
Notes BOP cannot guarantee inmate or BOP employee safety

UPDATE 3-25-20, 12:47 A.M.

USP Allenwood Local 307

Inmates from around the US were brought into Pa yesterday morning ( 3-23-20) via a US Marshal airlift. Dozens of inmates were then transported via buses through Central PA to USP Lewisburg, Allenwood Complex and USP Canaan. Upon arrival at Allenwood some of these inmates showed signs of physical distress, cough and some had registered fevers. At least one inmate was taken last night within hours of initial arrival off the bus at Allenwood to a local hospital and was tested for the COVID19 virus. The inmate is no longer in the hospital and to the best of my knowledge, the test results have not come back as of 3pm today ( 3-24-20).

As Shane Fausey, CPL-33 President, myself and other Pa Local Presidents warned, the fear of the BOP transporting the COVID19 virus to Central PA has all but become reality. Those of us at these institutions are doing everything we can to keep the public safe but we have no control or authority to stop inmate movement. We appreciate and want to thank Congressman Keller, Senator Toomey and Casey for trying to help us stop this transport but obviously the BOP takes their orders from a higher authority and has no plans on stopping even more transports currently planned for the future.” A. E. Kline, President Local 148 , USP Lewisburg and the Coalition of Pa Locals

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) Tuesday sent another letter to federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Michael Carvajal reiterating his request to halt BOP inmate movement for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak after an inmate transferred to FCC Allenwood yesterday arrived sick enough to get tested for COVID-19.

“Today, our office learned that it is standard operating procedure for inmates to be moved from detention facilities in other parts of the United States to FCC Allenwood, typically on Mondays of each week,” Congressman Keller wrote in part.

03.24.20 Letter to BOP Inmate Transfer

On Wednesday during the media conference call with BOP officials and Congressman Keller, News Talk 104.1 asked a question related to an inmate exhibiting COVD-19 symptoms.

What is the protocol if an inmate exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, would that person be treated at the prison facility or transported to a local medical facility?

In his press release this afternoon Congressman Keller noted:

“Yesterday, 32 inmates were airlifted from Oklahoma City to Harrisburg and then bused to FCC Allenwood. Upon arrival at FCC Allenwood, the inmates were screened, with two inmates exhibiting symptoms and elevated temperatures. One of those inmates’ symptoms necessitated a transfer to
Geisinger Danville Hospital where the inmate was tested for COVID-19. Those test results are pending.”

Congressman Keller added:

“These set of facts are disturbing and unacceptable. Clearly, BOP cannot guarantee the safety of BOP inmates, employees, their families, or the broader community. As such, continuing to move inmates throughout the BOP system while COVID-19 continues to spread is a mistake and must be immediately stopped.”

Earlier today, the Largest Federal Union Calls on the Bureau of Prisons to Cease Inmate Transport Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic. AFGE says BOP must stop inmate transfer until COVID-19 crisis is under control.

The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE), the exclusive representative for Bureau of Prisons employees nationwide, is calling on BOP Director Michael Carvajal to stop the transport of untested inmates during the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

By the end of this week, BOP will have transferred 19 untested inmates to three federal facilities in Central Pennsylvania, including United States Penitentiaries (USP) Lewisburg and Canaan, and Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Allenwood. Among the 19 are 11 from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where inmates are currently being quarantined after one inmate tested positive for COVID-19.

“This is a national public safety issue that must be addressed immediately,” said Andrew Kline, president of AFGE Local 148 at USP Lewisburg. “The transferring of inmates from a high-risk area, who have not yet been tested for the coronavirus, to a lower risk area has created a state of panic amongst staff and could potentially result in a medical crisis within the facilities, the health care system, and the Central PA community.”

Earlier this month BOP Director Carvajal invoked a 30-day suspension of staff travel, attorney and social visits, and inmate transfers due to concerns over the spread of virus to the 175,000 inmates currently in Bureau of Prisons custody and BOP staff. The agency recently modified its policy stating that inmates may be moved to manage crowding issues.

“It’s a shame that the Bureau of Prisons is continuing to increase the risk of exposure to this deadly disease to its inmates and staff across the country. Safety should be the number one concern,” said Jeremy Dominick, president of AFGE Local 3003 at USP Canaan. “The majority of these inmates have not been in the custody of the BOP prior to the transfer and could potentially be infected with the virus.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 21,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state of New York; Pennsylvania has only reported approximately 650 positive cases. Employees at the three Central PA facilities have expressed grave concern regarding the transfer to these inmates, citing the lack of available personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks, and cleaning supplies.

“BOP got it right the first time. They must revisit their COVID-19 plan to guarantee the safety of all employees and inmates, including supplying adequate amounts personal protective equipment,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley. “It is imperative that all transport of inmates is ceased until the COVID-19 crisis is under control.”

For the latest news and information about the coronavirus, visit www.afge.org/coronavirus.