Some lawmakers call for release of low-risk inmates to protect them from COVID-19

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – The Federal Bureau of Prisons is changing its guidelines to protect guards and prisoners from coronavirus. 

Some lawmakers, including the president, are even considering releasing low risk prisoners.

While most Americans are trying to stay apart, social distancing is nearly impossible for the nation’s prison population. 

“Let’s keep in mind, you know, the least of these and make sure they’re being protected and not disposable,” Senator Kamala Harris said. 

Senator Kamala Harris called on the Federal Bureau of Prisons to release low-risk inmates from their custody and she demanded the department provide details on how it will slow the spread of the virus within its walls.

“The incarcerated are not going to be immune to it if they have not taken the appropriate precautionary steps,” Harris said. 

At a press briefing last week, President Trump said he’s even considering prisoner release.

“We’re talking about totally non-violent prisoners, we’re actually looking at that yes,” Trump said. 

President Trump said he is considering an executive order to release some prisoners, but hasn’t said much about it since. 

The idea’s getting some pushback and not just from Republicans.

“I don’t think that’s where the major emphasis needs to go,” Representative John Garamendi, D-California, said. 

Democrat John Garamendi says lawmakers should make sure inmates are kept safe but says releasing prisoners goes too far. 

“Certainly there’s going to be infections in our prisons. We have to make sure the prison system is capable of handling that,” Garamendi said. 

The Bureau of Prisons didn’t respond to our request for comment but issued a release saying they’re limiting visitation and transfers. 

They’re also increasing health screening for inmates and staff, and all new inmates will be under automatic 14 day isolation.

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