Mar 31, 2020 - Health

Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons to enter 14-day quarantine

In this illustration, a medical cross is marked

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons "will be secured in their assigned cells/quarters" for 14 days beginning on April 1 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Bureau of Prisons announced on Tuesday.

The big picture: State-run jails in regions with high infection rates are freeing prisoners to fight the spread of COVID-19 between those who live in overcrowded and often unsanitary spaces that make social distancing near impossible.

  • In California, 3,500 inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes are scheduled to be released from California's prison system to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Los Angeles Times reports.
    • State prisons in the state have also "been locking down cell blocks where inmates exhibit flu-like symptoms," the per the L.A. Times.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week that he plans to release roughly 300 nonviolent Rikers Island inmates who are over 70 years old.
  • New Jersey's chief justice authorized the release of up to 1,000 people from its jails last week, the N.Y. Times reports.

Between the lines: Although the 14-day quarantine is "Phase 5" of the Bureau of Prisons' coronavirus plan, the announcement comes two days after the first federal prison inmate died from COVID-19 in Louisiana.

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