Health Care

DOJ watchdog finds Louisiana inmates with coronavirus were not isolated for a week

In a report released Tuesday, the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General found that a Louisiana prison did not not isolate inmates infected with coronavirus for about one week.

The watchdog conducted remote inspections of two Louisiana federal prisons — FCC Oakdale and FCC Pollock — between May 7 and June 16. FCC Oakdale experienced a serious outbreak early in the pandemic, while Pollock’s was not as serious. 

The IG report found that FCC Oakdale failed to comply with guidance from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on isolation and quarantine after nearly 100 inmates tested positive in mid-May.

The watchdog found that some infected inmates were left in their housing units for up to six days without being isolated. In addition, staff who supervised these inmates were not made aware that they tested positive nor given proper personal protective equipment. 

The report also found that staff did not have proper PPE in the beginning of the outbreak in March despite officials asserting that they always had sufficient supplies. Some staff did not understand the necessity of wearing proper PPE when in contact with infected inmates. 

Staff absences during the outbreak at FCC Oakdale resulted in some staff having to work 16-hour shifts, and in some cases, staff volunteered to work up to 40 hours straight, the report found. 

The Hill has reached out to the BOP for comment. 

Attorney General William Barr asked the OIG in April to conduct an assessment of prisons that were becoming hotspots and analyze how the DOJ could improve best practices. 

According to OIG’s report, 18,702 inmates and 2,395 BOP staff in BOP-managed institutions and community-based facilities have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Nov. 6. 

Tags Bureau of Prisons Coronavirus COVID19 Department of Justice DOJ Louisiana Pandemic William Barr

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