WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the national COVID-19 outbreak worsens, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker today led members of the New Jersey congressional delegation in renewing their call for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to halt transfers of incarcerated individuals to Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Fort Dix and reinstate the transfer moratorium that expired last month. Between incarcerated individuals and staff, there are over 130 confirmed COVID-19 cases at Fort Dix.
“In particular, we are deeply alarmed that BOP lifted the transfer moratorium for FCI Fort Dix on November 24, 2020. By resuming transfers of incarcerated individuals into and out of the facility in the midst of a severe outbreak, BOP is putting at risk the lives of both staff and incarcerated individuals,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to BOP Director Michael Carvajal. “We urge you to reinstate the transfer moratorium for FCI Fort Dix until there are no active cases at the facility.”
Beginning in October, BOP began transferring incarcerated individuals from FCI Elkton, in Ohio, to FCI Fort Dix, which had no reported cases of COVID-19. FCI Elkton had been hit hard by the pandemic, with over 900 confirmed COVID-19 cases among incarcerated individuals and staff. Soon after, cases at FCI Fort Dix began rising and peaked at over 300 in November. BOP has continually denied a connection between the transfers and the subsequent outbreak at FCI Fort Dix.
In the letter, the lawmakers also requested BOP’s plans for allocating and administering COVID-19 vaccines, information regarding current living conditions for incarcerated individuals at FCI Fort Dix, and if BOP is screening incarcerated individuals at FCI Fort Dix for potential home confinement in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.
Last month, Sens. Menendez and Booker led the delegation in calling on the BOP to extend the moratorium until BOP has an effective and accurate testing strategy and there are no active COVID-19 cases at FCI Fort Dix.
U.S. Representatives Donald Norcross (N.J.-01), Andy Kim (N.J.-03), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.-05), Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.-06), Tom Malinowski (N.J.-07), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09), Donald Payne, Jr. (N.J.-10), Mikie Sherrill (N.J.-11) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.-12) also signed today’s letter.
A copy of the letter can be found here and below.
Dear Mr. Carvajal,
We write today to again share our serious concerns regarding the Bureau of Prison’s (BOP’s) response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak at FCI Fort Dix, and to follow up with additional questions. In particular, we are deeply alarmed that BOP lifted the transfer moratorium for FCI Fort Dix on November 24, 2020. By resuming transfers of incarcerated individuals into and out of the facility in the midst of a severe outbreak, BOP is putting at risk the lives of both staff and incarcerated individuals. We urge you to reinstate the transfer moratorium for FCI Fort Dix until there are no active cases at the facility.
In light of these concerns, we respectfully request that BOP provide detailed answers to the following questions no later than Friday, December 11, 2020.
Thank you for your prompt consideration of this urgent matter.