WARNING: AG Barr Greenlights Federal Inmate Release Over ‘COVID-19 Fears’

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Wait, we thought Attorney General William Barr was going to be putting criminals in prison?

Instead, he is releasing them to home confinement. And without any electronic monitoring in most cases. Wait, what?

Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons on Friday to increase the use of home confinement and expedite the release of eligible high-risk inmates at three federal prisons where coronavirus cases have skyrocketed.

Officials were told to give highest priority to inmates who are being held at FCC Oakdale, a prison complex in Louisiana where five inmates have died and more than a dozen others remain hospitalized. Also listed were FCI Elkton in Ohio — where three inmates have died — and FCI Danbury in Connecticut, which has reported 20 inmates testing positive for coronavirus.

“We have to move with dispatch in using home confinement, where appropriate, to move vulnerable inmates out of these institutions,” Barr said in a Friday evening memo to the prison system’s director.

As of Friday night, 91 inmates and 50 staff members had tested positive for coronavirus at federal correctional facilities across the U.S., the agency said. Congressional leaders and prison advocates have been pressing the Justice Department for weeks to release at-risk inmates ahead of a potential outbreak, arguing that the public health guidance to stay 6 feet away from other people is nearly impossible behind bars.

The situation at Oakdale — where union officials say hundreds of inmates are quarantined — is fueling fear among inmates and staff members in the rest of the Bureau of Prisons system that the virus could spread just as rapidly at any of the other 121 correctional facilities, though the rate of infection compared with outside prison is low. Health officials have been warning for more than a decade about the dangers of epidemics in jails and prisons, which are ideal environments for virus outbreaks. READ MORE

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