Apr 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Barr orders broadened use of home confinement as coronavirus hits prisons

Attorney General Bill Barr speaking in the White House briefing room
Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr instructed the Bureau of Prisons on Friday to expand the use of home confinement and accelerate the release of eligible, high-risk inmates at three federal correctional facilities struck by the coronavirus, AP reports.

The state of play: As of Friday evening, 91 inmates and 50 staff had tested positive for COVID-19 at federal prisons across the U.S., per the agency.

Barr's directive focuses on three federal prisons: FCC Oakdale in Louisiana; FCI Elkton in Ohio; FCI Danbury in Connecticut, according to a memo obtained by Politico. He ordered the agency to conduct a review and identify inmates who may have risk factors associated with COVID-19.

Earlier this week, the bureau implemented a national lockdown to keep all federal inmates in their cells for 14 days.

  • Five inmates died at FCC Oakdale, and over a dozen more remain hospitalized, according to AP.
  • Three inmates died in FCI Elkton, AP notes.
  • FCI Danbury reported that 20 tested positive for coronavirus.

Worth noting: The public health guidance to remain 6 feet apart from others is essentially impossible in prison, per AP.

  • Meanwhile, some employees have been “forced to come to work against doctors’ orders to self-quarantine because the agency refuses to give them emergency leave,” Ohio union president Joseph Mayle told AP.

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