Legislators Urge Congressional Leadership to Include Prison Funding in COVID-19 Package
By edhat staff
Local legislators are urging Congressional leadership to quickly finalize a COVID-19 emergency response package including critical assistance for the Federal Prison in Lompoc.
On Monday, Congressman Salud Carbajal, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senator Kamala Harris wrote to House and Senate leadership advocating for funding for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in order to respond to the pandemic’s outbreaks in California prisons.
The letter emphasizes the need for funding to assist with testing, acquisition of personal protective equipment, and other efforts to mitigate COVID-19’s spread in federal prisons.
“We are concerned that BOP has not yet implemented universal testing or onsite testing for inmates and staff to stop the spread of the virus throughout the prison system or within our communities. We therefore urge you to work swiftly to ensure the necessary funds are made available to better equip the BOP in handling this crisis,” wrote the California lawmakers. “The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, with $200 million for the BOP to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks, over 10 weeks ago. Our communities cannot afford further delays.”
A recent report from the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (OIG) found significant shortcomings in Lompoc Prison’s COVID-19 response, including insufficient testing of inmates and staff.
The report states at the FCC Lompoc facility where all inmates were tested, the number of inmates testing positive for COVID-19 exceeded 75 percent as of May 11. Separately, as of early May, at least 53 of the 416 staff members at FCC Lompoc had been tested and approximately 60 percent (32 of 53) of those individuals tested positive.
As of Monday, the Senate has yet to confirm a new bill or extension for COVID-19 emergency response.