- The Washington Times - Friday, April 24, 2020

Sens. Richard J. Durbin and Charles E. Grassley asked the Justice Department inspector general to add reviewing the implementation of criminal justice reform and coronavirus relief legislation to its investigation of prisons’ handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Illinois Democrat and Iowa Republican requested DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz review the Bureau of Prisons’ implementation of the First Step Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr. Durbin and Mr. Grassley wrote that the legislation and U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr’s directives mean at-risk inmates should be transferred to home confinement amid the coronavirus’ spread.

“We are concerned that BOP is not fully and expeditiously implementing relevant statutory authority and directives from the Attorney General,” Mr. Durbin and Mr. Grassley wrote. “We also worry that BOP is significantly underestimating the rate of COVID-19 infection in BOP facilities because BOP has not yet conducted the number of tests on staff or inmates appropriate for facilities where a highly contagious virus can be easily spread.”

Mr. Durbin and Mr. Grassley wrote that they want a forthcoming report to detail the Bureau of Prisons’ management of coronavirus testing, screening, social distancing, quarantining and distribution of personal protective equipment. The senators also urged Mr. Horowitz to examine email, phone and video conferencing access for inmates and determine whether the Bureau of Prisons has misled Congress and the public.



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