March 10, 2020

Harris, Colleagues Question Bureau of Prisons and Private Prison Contractors About Plans to Prepare for and Manage Coronavirus at Federal Prisons

Over 175,000 individuals are incarcerated in federal prisons and jails, with over 17,500 of those in the custody of private prisons

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Tuesday joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Mark Warner (D-VA), in sending letters to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the three largest private prison operators – GEO Group (GEO), CoreCivic, and Management and Training Corporation (MTC) – asking about the policies and procedures that they have in place to prepare for and manage a potential spread of the novel coronavirus in federal prisons.

Over 175,000 individuals are incarcerated in federal prisons and jails, with over 17,500 of those in the custody of private prison contractors, such as GEO, CoreCivic, and MTC. Thousands of incarcerated people, their family and friends, and correctional staff move in and out of federal prisons every day. According to public health experts, incarcerated individuals "are at special risk of infection," and "may also be less able to participate in proactive measures to keep themselves safe." As a result, the uncontained spread of coronavirus in federal prisons and jails endangers the federal prison population, correctional staff, and the general public.

"Given the spread of the virus in the U.S.--and the particular vulnerability of the prison population and correctional staff--it is critical that (you) have a plan to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus to incarcerated individuals and correctional staff, along with their families and loved ones, and provide treatment to incarcerated individuals and staff who become infected," the senators wrote.

The senators have requested responses to their letters no later than March 16, 2020.

Text of the letter to BOP can be found here.

Text of the letter to GEO Group can be found here.

Text of the letter to CoreCivic can be found here.

Text of the letter to Management and Training Corporation can be found here.

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