The Bureau of Federal Prisons issued an order Wednesday directing prisons to keep inmates confined in cells for a 14-day period. The directive will impact operations in all 122 federal prison facilities around the country.
Bureau Director Michael Carvajal made the decision in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The large number of inmates and guards in prisons creates a situation where the virus can spread quickly. The directive seeks to substantially reduce physical contact between individuals.
Inmates will still be able to use mental health services and pursue educational opportunities if practicable under the new conditions.
Wednesday’s move is part of the Bureau’s COVID-19 Action Plan. In previous weeks, the Bureau has taken steps to reduce the risk of spread and prepare for outbreaks within prison facilities. On March 13, the agency placed on a 30-day suspension on inmate transfers and social visits. On March 18, the Bureau announced that “ample [medical] supplies are on hand and ready to be distributed or moved to any facility as deemed necessary.”
When the 14-day period is complete, the Bureau will re-examine the situation and determine whether any other actions are needed.
For more on COVID-19, see our special coverage.