LEWISBURG – U.S. Congressman Fred Keller (R-12th, Kreamer, Pa.) and others are trying to stop an influx of new inmates being brought into the federal prisons in our region. The congressman and union leaders are concerned the incoming inmates have, or been exposed to coronavirus.
Congressman Keller says the Federal Bureau of Prisons is shipping inmates to our area from New York, one of the hardest hit areas of COVID-19. Keller says those are on their way to USP Lewisburg, FCC Allenwood, and USP Canaan in northeast PA, without consent.
Congressman Keller said during a conference call Monday these acts are ‘shameful.’ Keller said, “I sent a letter to the bureau of prisons director telling him to halt any planned inmate transfers since it is clear BOP cannot guarantee the safety of inmates, guards or their families from the spread of COVID-19. We have heard nothing back.”
Shane Fausey is the Council of Prison Locals C-33 National President. He says federal prison officials here wanted to implement procedures to cope with moving inmates but they were ignored. Fausey explained, “Our number one concern was halting inmate movement. We believe by Friday, the director implemented most of our requests, one of which was halting the movement of all inmates. Unfortunately it took about 24 hours to realize that there were still inmates moving about the system. Those inmates continue to move at this very minute.”
Keller says the Bureau of Prisons has also not been forthcoming as to how many inmates are being sent to our area. Andy Kline of USP Lewisburg says incoming inmates will be quarantined, but there is only a limited amount of testing resources. Kline said, “The only testing currently the BOP does for inmates that are coming in is the same temperature screening that staff are having, so the inmate may already be infected. He may not have been through the five to seven day period because the bureau of prisons has very limited test kits.”
Lewisburg, Allenwood and Canaan officials also say there are no public visitations allowed at their institutions at this time. We have reached out the prison system and have not yet heard back.