Government, Latest News

Coronavirus Update: U.S. Senator Manchin asked U.S. Attorney General Barr to halt plan to transfer Out-of-State federal inmates from hotspots to W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., released the following statement about the proposed plan from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to relocate inmates from COVID-19 hotspot regions of the country to West Virginia for quarantine.

Senator Manchin also urged U.S. Attorney General (AG) William Barr to immediately halt the plans to send new out-of-state inmates from COVID-19 hotspot regions to FCC Hazelton and FCI Gilmer to quarantine. This decision puts West Virginia’s already vulnerable population, our correctional officers and their families at a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“I am deeply troubled by plans the Bureau of Prisons are considering to transport new inmates from COVID-19 hotspot regions of the country to West Virginia for quarantine. This move puts our already vulnerable population and our correctional officers and their families at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19,” Senator Manchin said.

“West Virginians have buckled down and closely followed state and federal guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 here in the Mountain State, and that’s why I am strongly opposing the transfer of out of state prisoners to West Virginia. During this time of a global pandemic we must take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and this is especially true in our correctional system where the brave men and women who operate these facilities work in close proximity with our prison populations,” Manchin said.

U.S. Senate Joe Manchin

“I am imploring BOP to reassess their plans and instead help our state through this challenging time by using the excess capacity at FCC Hazelton and FCI Gilmer to help relieve the overcrowding in our state jails and waving the cost of housing the inmates for the duration of the pandemic. This act of compassion by BOP would greatly benefit the people of West Virginia while we continue to fight this terrible virus. I will continue working with the U.S. Justice Department, BOP leadership, union leaders and the leadership teams at FCC Hazelton and FCI Gilmer to ensure every precaution is taken to keep the citizens of West Virginia, our correctional officers, and the inmates safe as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In his letter to Barr, the Senator said in part, “Instead, I respectfully request you consider helping West Virginia during this challenging time by utilizing the excess capacity at FCC Hazelton and FCI Gilmer to support efforts already underway to relieve the overcrowding in our state jails and waive the cost of housing those state inmates for the duration of the pandemic. This act of compassion by DOJ and BOP would greatly benefit the people of West Virginia while we continue to fight this terrible virus. By working as a partner with the state to better utilize the excess capacity in these facilities we can join together on a solution to enhance physical distancing in our state jails and slow the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.”

“Again, I implore you to cease the movement of these new out-of-state inmates to West Virginia and work with the state to bolster ongoing efforts to protect the public, our correctional officers, and the current inmate population,” Manchin said.

The letter can be read in full below or viewed here.

Dear Attorney General Barr:

I write to request your urgent intervention to immediately halt plans by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to send new out-of-state inmates from COVID-19 hotspot regions of the country to quarantine at two institutions in West Virginia: FCC Hazelton and FCI Gilmer. The move of new out-of-state inmates puts our already vulnerable population, and our correctional officers and their families in West Virginia, at a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, West Virginia is home to the highest-risk population in the country for COVID-19, and West Virginians have buckled down and closely followed public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 here in the Mountain State. I am aware of the BOP’s efforts to implement an aggressive action plan to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 throughout their facilities nationwide, but transporting new out-of-state inmates, even those who may be asymptomatic for COVID-19, from hotspot regions of the country to West Virginia significantly increases the risk of transmitting the virus across state lines. While I understand statutory obligations facing the BOP to accept newly admitted inmates from the United States Marshals Service, I believe it is imperative that Department of Justice (DOJ) and the BOP consider the potential health risks associated with moving new out-of-state inmates in to the BOP’s facilities in West Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, I respectfully request you consider helping West Virginia during this challenging time by utilizing the excess capacity at FCC Hazelton and FCI Gilmer to support efforts already underway to relieve the overcrowding in our state jails and waive the cost of housing those state inmates for the duration of the pandemic. This act of compassion by DOJ and BOP would greatly benefit the people of West Virginia while we continue to fight this terrible virus. By working as a partner with the state to better utilize the excess capacity in these facilities we can join together on a solution to enhance physical distancing in our state jails and slow the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia. 

Again, I implore you to cease the movement of these new out-of-state inmates to West Virginia and work with the state to bolster ongoing efforts to protect the public, our correctional officers, and the current inmate population.

During this time of a global pandemic, we must take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That vigilance is especially necessary in our correctional system, where the brave men and women who operate these facilities work in close proximity with our prison populations and then go home to their families. I look forward to your response and remain committed to working with you and the leadership at BOP to keep the citizens of West Virginia, our correctional officers, and inmates safe as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter