The number of cases has increased by 110 percent in a week, from 4,377 on January 11 to 9,194 yesterday. On December 28, 2020, this figure surpassed the previous high of 7,690. Yesterday’s figure was 239 percent of the rolling 21-day average.
The number of employees reached 1,150, up 24% from the previous week. COVID has overtaken all 128 facilities when another inmate died.
Forbes reported that “On December 10, 2021, there were 265 active COVID-19 infections among federal prisoners across the country… Only a month later, that number has risen to 3,761 instances and is still rising. If history is any indication of how the BOP will present these figures, they will be significantly understated.”
According to a Denver TV station, a BOP staff union official at FCI Englewood claimed that convicts don’t always obey COVID requirements. “When you have people in our community in there for not following the rules, many of them don’t wear it, and that creates a burden in itself. You may catch inmates not wearing their masks all the time.”
Some argue that it isn’t always the inmates’ responsibility. Writing at Medscape.com, an infectious disease expert complained about the low vaccination rate among BOP personnel: “Prison guards across the country have also been more reluctant than many others to receive the COVID vaccine, although they were prioritized to be vaccinated… In jail, the risk of contracting COVID is six times higher than in the outside… While there were supply shortages early in the pandemic, there is no reason now that prisoners should not be cared for by fully vaccinated and masked staff and with provided better masks and ventilation. Imprisonment shouldn’t be a death sentence.”
Only 69.5 percent of BOP workers are currently vaccinated, whereas 74.6 percent of convicts are (despite the fact that BOP employees are under a federal mandate to get vaxxed). So, who are the scofflaws in this situation?
“Wherever there is a BOP facility, there is a prisoner who is not being released to home confinement who is qualified by the BOP’s own rules,” Forbes said, claiming that BOP institutions have been slow-walking CARES Act releases. This is likely to continue until the Executive or Legislative branches of government intervene. The BOP is in need of new leadership, is failing to manage the pandemic in its institutions, is behind on implementing the First Step Act, has a sour relationship with the union, is experiencing staffing shortages, is short on the qualified medical staff, has low morale, and has multiple cases of staff corruption.”
Forbes, As COVID Cases Spike, Federal Bureau Of Prisons Is Not Releasing Eligible Inmates (January 11, 2022)
KCNC-TV, Denver, Federal Correctional Institution Englewood Employees Concerned About COVID Risk (January 13, 2022)
Medscape.com, Some Prisoners Face Risk for COVID From the Community (January 16, 2022)