Jan 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Federal prisons on lockdown ahead of Biden inauguration

The entrance to the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York,

The entrance to the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York. Photo: Eduardo Munoz/AFP

All federal prisons have been placed on lockdown "in light of current events" across the U.S. and out an "abundance of caution," the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced Saturday.

Why it matters: The move comes just days after the FBI warned law enforcement agencies nationwide that armed protests were being planned in all 50 states in the lead up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

  • The bureau is moving some of its Special Operations Response Teams to Washington, D.C., to help with security after President Trump’s supporters stormed the capital on Jan. 6, AP noted.

What they're saying: "We recognize that this pandemic has placed a heavy burden on inmates and their families in terms of limited movement and the public's restrictions in being able to freely visit with loved ones. However, in light of current events occurring around the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the decision has been made to secure all institutions," BOP said in a news release.

  • "There is no specific information that triggered this decision. This action is precautionary, and is not in response to any significant events occurring inside our facilities," it added.

Inmates received a letter informing them of the lockdown, according to the Marshall Project's Keri Blakinger.

  • “I am writing this letter to inform you effective Saturday, January 16, 2021, you will be secured in your assigned cells/quarters for precautionary reasons,” the letter from BOP director M.D. Carvajal said, per Blakinger.
  • “We will continue to monitor events carefully and will adjust operations accordingly as the situation to evolve."

Flashback: BOP imposed a lockdown last June following countrywide unrest after the police killing of George Floyd.

  • For much of the last year, the BOP has also been "operating under a modified operational model to promote social distancing and mitigate the spread of COVID-19."
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