WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Kamala Harris was joined by a group of colleagues to question the Bureau of Prisons and Private Prison Contractors about plans to prepare for and manage the coronavirus at federal prisons, according to a press release.
At Harris' side were Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senators Tammy Baldwin, Richard Blumenthal, Cory A. Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Edward J. Markey, Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Chris Van Hollen, Brian Schatz, Sherrod Brown, Mazie Hirono, Tina Smith, and Mark Warner, who helped Harris send letters to BOP and the three largest private prison operators – GEO Group, CoreCivic, and Management and Training Corporation.
In their letters, the senators inquired about the policies and preparations they have to manage a potential spread of the novel coronavirus in federal prisons.
With 175,000 individuals being held in federal prisons and jails, thousands of incarcerated people, their family and friends, and correctional staff move in and out of federal prisons every day are at risk of spreading COVID-19, the press release said.
"Given the spread of the virus in the U.S.," the senators wrote, "--and the particular vulnerability of the prison population and correctional staff--it is critical that (you) have a plan to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus to incarcerated individuals and correctional staff, along with their families and loved ones, and provide treatment to incarcerated individuals and staff who become infected."
The senators have asked for responses to their letters no later than March 16.