All federal prisons in the US have been put on lockdown ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 21.
The lockdown, announced at midnight on Saturday, was in response to “current events,” according to a statement by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The decision was a precautionary one and not in response to any specific events, the Bureau clarified. In a lockdown, prisoners are further restricted from leaving their cells and visitors are prohibited.
Inmates at federal prisons will be given limited access to email and telephones so they can stay in touch with family, with BOP adding that it hopes to end the lockdown soon. Due to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases, many prisons have already implemented significant restrictions on visitors.
With prisons as a potential hotbed for the spread of viruses, the BOP has committed to implementing widespread COVID-19 vaccinations for staff and inmates, with over 17,000 doses already administered. The BOP expects to have all prison facilities receive their first dose by mid-February.
The weeks leading up to President-elect Biden’s inauguration have been turbulent, with the recent riots in the Washington D.C. causing a massive increase in security ahead of the inauguration. While the BOP did not specifically allude to any events in its statement, the Bureau has prepared to deploy its Special Operations Response Teams to D.C. as support for US Marshals during the inauguration.