43 Inmates at Elkton Federal Prison to Be Relesed

LISBON, Ohio — In response to an order U.S. Attorney General William Barr, 43 inmates are being prepared for release from the Federal Corrections Institution in Elkton.

According to Joseph Mayle, president of the Law Enforcement Officers Union at the Elkton facility, at least six and as many as eight inmates will go to home confinedment while the others will either go to halfway houses or receive full-term release.

This release is not related to legal action pending before U.S. Judge James Gwin, who granted a preliminary injunction ordering Elkton officials to identify all medically vulnerable prisoners for release. An appeal of that order has been filed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in U.S. Sixth Circuit Court.

On Thursday the Sixth Circuit Court denied the BOP request for an administrative stay that would have prevented the disclosure of inmates subject to release as part of the court case filed by the inmates.

The current planned inmate release, according to Mayle, is in response to a March 26 order by Barr, who ordered federal prison officials to maximize the release of prisoners to home confinement, focusing on medically vulnerable ones in facilities that had experienced COVID-19 deaths.

In an April 5 news release, the BOP reported it had begun reviewing all inmates with COVID-19 risk factors, with Elkton inmates mentioned as being among some of the first assessed.

Mayle said the 43 inmates currently being prepared for release had already been in the process of being identified before the federal court order was handed down.

These inmates, he said, must meet all the criteria set down by the BOP, must test negative for COVID-19 and be quarantined for 14 days before they can be released. The union president said they could take public transportation or have friends or family members pick them up upon release.

Mayle could not say whether any of the 43 earmarked for release are from the immediate area.

Since they are currently in quarantine, some of the inmates could be released as early as a few days, but most will likely be leaving by next week, if they test negative, Mayle said.

Mass testing of all inmates began at the prison Thursday, Mayle said.

In a video message Wednesday to staff members, BOP Director Michael Caravjel spoke about expanded testing to asymptomatic inmates. He also announced that the Ohio National Guard was deactivated at FCI Elkton April 24 due to the declining number of COVID-19 incidents among inmates.

The National Guard was authorized several weeks ago by Gov. Mike DeWine to assist Elkton medical personnel with burgeoning COVID-19 cases.

Caravjel said in the video the National Guard has been replaced by BOP medical staff, the public health service and contract nurses services.

A temporary medical area established by the National Guard during its stay will continue to be used, according to Caravjel.

Mayle said prison employees are not included in the mass testing, adding they have to be tested by outside agencies.

In his daily report Thursday, Mayle said 49 staff members have actually tested positive for COVID-19. “There are staff members out there off sick with symptoms who haven’t been tested yet,” he added. “They don’t have to tell anyone they have COVID-19.”

In addition to the staff numbers, Mayle reported 20 inmates are hospitalized, eight are on ventilators; 80 are in quarantine; and are 29 in isolation. The death toll among inmates remains at seven.

Columbiana County Health District reported Thursday an additional nine positive cases of COVID-19 among county residents, bringing the total to 243, with 62 of those Elkton inmates and 25 residents of long-term care facilities.

No new deaths were reported by the county, with the total standing at 24, of which seven were prison inmates and nine residents of long-term care facilities.

The Ohio Department of Health reported Thursday afternoon 253 cases, 98 hospitalizations and 23 deaths in Columbiana County.

The ODOH also reported that, as of April 28, the Circle of Care nursing home in the county had two positive cases among staff members, while Salem West nursing home had seven positive residents and two positive staff members.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.