The US federal prison system will begin locking inmates down for two weeks today amid rising cases of coronavirus across the country.
The 14-day quarantine will be waived while prisoners attend certain education programs or psychiatric treatments, but otherwise they will be confined to their cells.
Access to prison facilities, like telephones and laundry, will be permitted if ‘practical’, the Bureau of Prisons announced.
In this 26 February, 2013, file photo, inmates walk through the exercise yard at California State Prison Sacramento, near Folsom, Calif. From today, inmates will be locked down at US federal prisons to prevent the spread or infections of coronavirus
The lockdown rules being rolled out today come after it was announced that the first federal prisoner has died after contracting the deadly coronavirus.
Officials told AP that the man died Saturday. He had been housed at FCI Oakdale I, a low-security prison in Louisiana.
The Bureau has said five inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at the same prison complex.
Pictured: The federal Metropolitan Correctional Center is pictured on December 18, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The confinement of prisoners across the US comes a day after a man died from COVID-19 at a facility in Louisiana
Attorney General William Barr said earlier this week that one of the inmates had been hospitalized after showing coronavirus symptoms, including having a fever. He said on Thursday that the man had ‘significant pre-existing conditions’ and was in critical condition.
Advocates and correction officers have been calling for reforms to head off a potential outbreak in the federal prison system. So far, 14 inmates and 13 staff members have tested positive.
Health officials have been warning for more than a decade about the dangers of epidemics in jails and prisons.