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October 8, 2021: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE and BOP COVID-19 BLOG




Quick Facts (Full BOP Stats can be found here) Currently positive-testing inmates: 325 (down from 354) Currently positive-testing staff: 482 (up from 470) Recovered inmates: 43,071 (up from 43,043) Recovered staff: 7,868 (up from 7,863)


Institutions with the largest number of currently positive-testing inmates:

Beaumont USPI: 41 (unchanged)

Three Rivers FCI: 41 (down from 46)

Phoenix FCI: 34 (unchanged)

Institutions with the largest number of currently positive-testing staff:

Oakdale I FCI: 27 (unchanged)

Phoenix FCI: 27 (unchanged)

Forrest City Low FCI 19 (unchanged)

System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 132,205 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 14,592 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 123,066 (up from 122,856) Positive tests: 42,939 (up from 42,936)


Total vaccine doses administered: 230,833 (up from 229,171)

News Note: You may have noticed the recent trend of inmate positive cases going down and staff positive cases going up. We've seen this before. Incredibly, the number of staff positives now greatly exceeds the inmate positives (482 vs. 325), even though there are nearly 4x as many inmates. In an October 6, 2021 article in Forbes online by Walter Pavlo, titled Federal Bureau Of Prisons Staff 63% Vaccinated But Union Digging In Heels On Mandate, we get a good idea of the reason for this disparity: far too many staff are refusing vaccines, and the union is digging in its heels. Of course, staff refusals to be vaccinated also accounts for much of the inmate infections. Pavlo wries:


Inmates, for the most part, spend their time inside prison facilities, so their only exposure comes from contractors who visit the facility and BOP staff. BOP Director Michael Carvajal gave testimony to Congress (Senate and House) in March and April where he came under criticism for the agency having a low vaccination rate (at the time stated to be under 50%) when the BOP had been given priority COVID-19 vaccine doses. However, the then-preliminary approval of the vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibited a mandate. Now with FDA approval of multiple vaccines, President Joe Biden has mandated that all federal employees get vaccinated. Director Carvajal put out an internal memo on September 29, 2021 with the directive to the agency on the mandate, its implementation and the penalty for not complying. It has not been well received. Carvajal’s memo stated, “Meeting this vaccination requirement is vital to keeping our staff, families, co-workers and inmate population safe.” To enforce the mandate, Carvajal listed the the penalty for failure to get vaccinated, “if you [staff] are exempt for a religious or qualifying medical reason, you must be fully vaccinated by November 22, 2021, or you will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including removal from the federal service.” Unions are already hitting back.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union proudly representing 700,000 federal and D.C. government workers nationwide and overseas ... it includes members of the BOP staff. Eric Speirs, President of AFGE Local 501 in Miami (FDC Miami) submitted a grievance that the mandate is unconstitutional and also argues that inmates, who cannot be mandated to take the vaccine, have more rights than the staff who supervise them. “I’m all for vaccines but this is not a personal issue, it is a Constitutional issue,” Speirs told me in an interview. Speirs said, “our members are sworn law enforcement officer and, as such, have taken the federal 5 USC 3331 Oath of Office. They can't have it both ways. On one hand the mandate violates employees constitutional rights, but does not violating federal inmates right "Under the Color of Law" 18 USC 242. Honestly, I don’t see two violations of rights solving the problem either.”

This mandate and union position come as the BOP is faced with shortages of staff at a number of institutions where they have had to resort to recruitment and retention bonuses. There is also the looming decision as to whether or not inmates who are on home confinement under the CARES Act will have to return to prison once the pandemic has ended. For now, the pandemic is alive and well inside the BOP.


Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announcing BOP COVID-related deaths is located here.) The inmate death remains at 262. Ten of these inmates died while on home confinement. Staff deaths remain at 6.

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