By Clare Hymes
U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Thursday directed the Bureau of Prisons to increase the use of home confinement among older inmates with underlying conditions as a means to mitigate the spread of coronavirus within the country’s prison system. As of Thursday, 10 inmates and eight staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 in federal facilities.
“There are particular concerns in this institutional setting. We want to make sure that our institutions don’t become Petri dishes and it spreads rapidly through a particular institution. We have the protocols that are designed to stop that and we are using all the tools we have to protect the inmates,” Barr said in a virtual press conference on Thursday.
According to the attorney general, the bureau holds 146,000 inmates spread across 122 facilities nationwide, not including the 21,000 inmates that are incarcerated in facilities run by private contractors. About 10,000 inmates are over the age of 60 years old, a third of which have pre-existing conditions.