Private Prisons Holding 28,000 Inmates Not Reporting Coronavirus Cases to Federal Bureau of Prisons

Private Prisons Holding 28,000 Inmates Not Reporting Coronavirus Cases to Federal Bureau of Prisons

It is no secret that coronavirus is spreading rampantly through nursing homes, prisons, and other crowded facilities with poor sanitary practices. Although seven weeks have passed since President Trump declared a national emergency, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) still does not have information on coronavirus infections and COVID-19 deaths from the 12 private prisons housing approximately 28,000 federal inmates. 

Recent Numbers 

As of May 2, BOP has 141,310 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions, according to its website. There are 10,820 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. Currently, 1919 federal inmates and 349 BOP staff have tested positive for COVID-19 across the country. Of these, 515 inmates and 147 staff have recovered. The number of known federal inmate deaths is 37, and no BOP staff members have yet succumbed to the disease. 

The number of federal prisons with inmates or staff testing positive for coronavirus has climbed to 52. There are also 22 regional re-entry centers affected.

However, those numbers do not include those 28,000 inmates in privately-run facilities. These people are equal to about 20 percent of the inmates who are in BOP-managed institutions. Many of them face deportation at the end of their sentences. The three companies running these for-profit prisons are CoreCivic, Geo Group, and Management & Training Group.

Inadequate Treatment in Private Facilities

Lawyers have filed various motions on behalf of federal defendants seeking their early release due to the fear and risk of coronavirus infection. An Oregon public defender with 34 clients sentenced in federal court and sent to prisons nationwide says she is concerned because there is apparently no reporting on the coronavirus situation in these facilities. There is also no information regarding testing. That means inmates in these prisons may face inadequate and unequal treatment, she says. 

In early March, just as the virus was starting to spread in the U.S., several federal legislators sent letters to the private prison companies to find out their plans for coronavirus management in their facilities. They later followed up with BOP when they did not receive a response from at least one company.

Public Health Reports

Even though the BOP may not have this information, some statistics are available via public health reports. North Carolina officials reported that Geo Group’s Rivers Correctional Institute in Winton has three staff members and an inmate testing positive for coronavirus. 

In a recent press release, Geo Group did not provide any numbers when it came to infected inmates or staff at any of its facilities, but did state that “all of our facilities operate safely and without overcrowded conditions.” The company notes they have increased sanitation, provision of personal hygiene items to inmates, and provided “educational guidance” to staff and inmates on how to avoid the spread of the disease. 

It is also known that CoreCivic detention centers that do not receive federal prisoners have inmates testing positive for the virus. To date, its San Diego Otay Mesa facility has 167 positive results among inmates. Lawsuits have already been filed by two detention officers at Otay Mesa, alleging CoreCivic failed to take the necessary steps to protect their health. 

Excuses, Excuses

The BOP has not explained why the number for privately-run prisons is not included in its website data. A spokesperson claimed they were “constantly” trying to improve their reporting and keep up with a “fluid” situation. At this point, there really no excuse for not having these numbers. The lack of numbers may indicate the situation is far worse than the private prison industry wants to let on. There is no way to know until they provide accurate reports to the BOP. 

Did You or a Family Member Contract Coronavirus While in Jail?

Our jail injury lawyers are currently investigating claims that inmates contracted coronavirus while in jail. While there are many variables to these cases, we are most interested in inmates who died or suffered permanent injuries as the result of exposure to coronavirus while in jail. (We also are interested in any claims of prison staff who died or suffered permanent injuries as the result of coronavirus contracted in jail although proving where the virus was contracted will be more difficult. Typically, staff claims are considered workers compensation claims.)

For more information, please visit our jail medical neglect information page. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact us online or by email at [hidden email].

Although we try and answer every call, we are often overwhelmed and can’t return every call. Please be sure you leave a detailed message and note that we limit our practice to wrongful death, very serious injury cases, inmate miscarriages and sexual assaults by prison staff.

*About Brian Mahany. Brian is both a former corrections officer and police officer. Brian uses his training and experience to cut through bureaucratic bs and government coverups.

We do not believe that all cops and guards are bad people. We do not hesitate, however, to vigorously prosecute cases where officers and medical staff use excessive force or fail to provide adequate care. Everyone has a right to expect quality care, respect and dignity.


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