WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — “We want them to pause the moving of the inmates,” Pennsylvania Rep. Fred Keller said.
Keller says the Federal Bureau of Prisons should stop inmate transfers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Keller has introduced the PANDEMIC act. which would pause the transfers to protect both the inmates and the men and women who work at the facilities.
“Let’s make sure that our corrections officers are safe by not transmitting people that may be infected, but then also protecting the community where the corrections officers live,” Keller said.
Democratic Congressman Matt Cartwright is co-sponsoring the bill.
“There’s no way you can avoid getting up close and personal with inmates at these corrections facilities. And these are corrections officers that go home to their families at night and expose them to the danger,” Cartwright said.
As of April 5, the bureau of prisons says 138 inmates and 59 staff members have tested positive throughout the country. The bureau says it has reduced the number of transfers, but Keller and Cartwright says the BOP needs to stop for now.
“Does it matter where somebody is serving if sentenced during this pandemic? Stay put. I mean, everybody else has put their lives on pause,” Keller said.
“It’s a recipe for disaster if we allow these transfers to keep happening,” Cartwright said.
Keller and Cartwright say if the movement doesn’t stop, COVID-19-positive inmates, officers and other staff will need treatment from already overwhelmed healthcare providers, a situation both representatives want to avoid.