Brown, Reps Seek Answers about Deaths at FCI Elkton

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-9 Ohio, called on the Federal Bureau of Prisons to provide answers regarding the rise in COVID-19 cases at Federal Correctional Institution Elkton.

In a letter – also signed by Reps. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, and Marcia L. Fudge, D-11-Ohio – sent to Federal Bureau of Prisons director Michael Carvajal, Brown and Kaptur pressed the bureau for answers and urged the agency to step up their efforts to protect those in the facility. 

BOP failed to take steps to protect inmates and staff at this facility until it was compelled to do so by a court order, and has been slow to institute needed reforms to protect individuals at the prison, Brown and Kaptur said in a statement Monday.

The bureau reported nine inmates have died from the coronavirus and 446 inmates and seven staff have active infections, according to a recent court filing. Brown and Kaptur are urging the bureau to comply with the court order and act immediately to protect the safety of both staff and those incarcerated.

“We are deeply troubled by the conditions at FCI Elkton and the implications for both corrections staff and those incarcerated,” Brown and Kaptur wrote. “Inmates at FCI Elkton live in crowded conditions that prevent meaningful social distancing unless the populations of these facilities are significantly reduced through home confinement, transfer, or compassionate release.” 

They continued, “Even more disturbing is BOP’s indifference to the needs of the most vulnerable populations at FCI Elkton. Status reports filed by BOP with the court reveal BOP’s lack of testing, poor understanding of the size and scope of the vulnerable population at the facility, and unwillingness to take steps necessary to protect those populations.”

The Cares Act provided significant discretion to Attorney General William Barr and the Bureau of Prisons to manage facilities across the nation. On April 3, Barr directed the agency to maximize home confinement for prisoners at FCI Elkton, which they have yet to do. Brown and Kaptur pressed BOP on why that authority has yet to be used at FCI Elkton.

Additionally, Brown and Kaptur are also requesting that BOP provide answers to a list of comprehensive questions regarding safety and prevention, along with regular status reports to better monitor the bureau’s efforts to protect corrections officers and those incarcerated at FCI Elkton. 

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.