FORREST CITY, Ark. — 29 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the federal prison in Forrest City, AR.
Across the country, over 200 inmates and 70 employees have tested positive for the virus.
FOX13’s Shelia O’Connor started digging deeper into the Bureau of Prisons COVID-19 Action Plan put into place in January as well as the possibility for inmates to be released on home confinement.
At the end of March, Attorney General William Barr urged the Bureau of Prisons to increase home confinement to slow the spread of COVID-19 in federal prisons.
The AG set specific criteria for the BOP to follow when they consider an inmate eligible or not for home confinement.
The BOP will look at the inmate’s age and vulnerability to COVID-19 as it corresponds to the CDC’s guidelines.
The BOP will look at the security level of the facility the inmate is housed in, with priority going to inmates at low and minimum level facilities.
An inmates conduct in the prison will be considered. If an inmate has engaged in a violent or gang-related activity or received a BOP violation within the last year, they will not be a priority for home confinement.
The BOP will also look to see if the inmate has a verified re-entry plan to prevent recidivism and maximize public safety.
They will also verify that the inmate is at a lower risk of catching COVID-19 at the location the inmate would be confined to.
The BOP will also take into consideration the crime the inmate was convicted for and if the inmate poses as a danger to the community.
According to AG Barr’s criteria, some offenses like sex offenses, makes an inmate ineligible for home confinement.
AG Barr said other serious offenses should weigh heavily against the consideration for home confinement.
So far, 3,468 inmates are on home confinement.
The Bureau of Prisons told FOX13 the number of inmates released by institution is not available.
FOX13 works to find out if any inmates at the federal prison in Forrest City have been moved to home confinement.
We also have a breakdown of the BOP’s COVID-19 Action Plan, it’s broken down into 5 phases.
Phase 1 saw the establishment of a task force to create a plan for fighting the virus.
Phase 2 was implemented on March 13. Social and legal visits were suspended, staff travel and training were canceled, access limited for contractors and volunteers, screenings were enhanced for staff and inmates.
All facilities were placed on modified operations to maximize social distancing, which includes staggered meal times and recreation time for inmates.
BOP also established quarantine and isolation procedures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Phase 3 began on March 18. Inventory was taken on all cleaning, sanitation and medical supplies.
Phase 4 began on March 26. BOP updated their quarantine and isolation procedures to include all new inmates to be screened and get temperature checks before entering facilities.
Asymptomatic inmates are placed on a 14-day quarantine, symptomatic inmates are placed in isolation until they test negative for COVID-19 or are cleared by medical staff.
Phase 5 began on April 1. Inmates in every institution will be secured in their assigned cell/quarters for a 14-day period.
The Bureau of Prisons will also coordinate with the U.S. Marshal Services to decrease incoming movement.
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