The Federal Bureau of Prisons reached a severe milestone on Saturday: 100 prisoners died from themsince the beginning of the pandemic. Among the dead – fathers and mothers, daughters and sons and brothers and sisters – none of them was sentenced to death.
The federal prison system has 122 facilities that hold nearly 129,000 inmates across the country. According to the bureau, more than 10,000 prisoners tested positive for the virus at one point, and more than 35,000 for testing.
Of the 100 deaths from the virus, three women died. The first was bear Andrea Krug, a 30-year-old mother who gave birth to her sixth child while on a fan.
“I asked [hospital staff] if she even knew about the baby and they said, “No, she was on the fan,”; Circular Bear’s grandmother, Clara LeBo, told CBS News. “She never even knew she had a child, and she never got a chance to hold on. child.”
Krug’s bear was convicted of drug charges after she was caught distributing methamphetamine at her home in the Indian Cheyenne Reserve. In January, she was sentenced to 26 months in prison. She died in late April after being infected with the coronavirus, about four weeks after the birth of her daughter.
In March, the bureau suspended all prisoner transfers in response to the pandemic. Despite this, Bear Circle was transferred from the prison of the victorious city of South Dakota to Carswell Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth on March 20, the bureau said. A week later, she was sent to a local hospital due to pregnancy concerns.
The bear was discharged from the circle, but returned two days later, on March 31, after she developed a fever and a dry cough. She was placed on a fan on April 1, the same day she gave birth to a daughter, Elisha Elizabeth Ann Tall Bear.
Three days later, Circle Bear detected a positive coronavirus. She died on April 28. The bureau said the Bear Circle “had a previous health condition that the CDC cites as a risk factor for the more severe COVID-19 disease.”
LeBo stated that she was not allowed to see the Bear Circle when she picked up the child in Texas. Throughout her granddaughter’s illness, she claims that she never received any notification from the bureau about her update on the Bear’s condition, and that her death came as a surprise.
“I just hope that something can be done to help other families where they don’t have to go through what I did,” LeBo said.
The Bureau of Prisons rejected a request for an interview with Director Michael Carvajal and declined to comment as part of the story. According to its website, the agency changed several operations in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, including quarantining and checking newly arrived prisoners, in addition to suspending all visits.
Jennifer Jones learned that her father, Eric Singer, died two days after receiving a call from an unknown number in North Carolina. “It was a three-minute, 48-second conversation, and I probably need a full minute to understand that I’m talking to my dad,” she said.
“He’s suffocating and looks like ‘I’m sick,'” Jones said, describing what ended his last conversation with his father. She believes the call came from a burned-out phone in an internal prison, and her father called her because she was by his power of attorney, “he begins to review everything he wanted to do, and he can’t even get a whole sentence out.”
The 73-year-old Singer was serving a 15-year sentence for child pornography charges at a low-security federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, one of the hardest hit by the virus. The singer and 15 others died in Butner after signing a contract for COVID-19, more than any other federal prison in the country.
Jones, who was close to his father, decided to distance himself from him about a year ago to work because of his own trauma related to the behavior for which the Singer was convicted in the 80s. Her sister still spoke to him regularly, and was the one who received a phone call from the prison chaplain informing her that her father had died.
“I absolutely had to take a step back,” Jones explained. “For those who have ever lost someone they are close to, especially so suddenly and without any warning, you don’t know how much time you don’t have until you have it.”
The chaplain called less than two days after Jones received a phone call, and she said it was her family’s only official connection to the prison regarding her father’s illness. Looking back, she is grateful for that short phone call with her father, because without it, she and her family would never have known that her father was ill. It was the first time they’d said in a few months, “We haven’t even been able to say to each other, ‘I love you.’
Many lawyers insist on the increased use of compassionate release or on the expansion of the bureau of benefits for imprisonment among the majority of the prison population. By reducing the number of prisoners from within, they argue that prisons can use social distancing methods and limit their influence.
Congressman Bobby Rush, a Democrat from Illinois, expressed concern about the impossibility of practicing social distancing in the prison system. “I think it’s terrible, it’s impossible,” Rush said in response to the 100 deaths of prisoners. “It doesn’t make sense. Why do we play Russian roulette with elderly, nonviolent prisoners who do not pose a threat to society?”
In May, when the House passed the Heroes Act, it enacted the Prison Justice Act, which barred prisons from making commissions on prisoners’ phone calls, making it easier for them to stay in touch with their loved ones during a pandemic.
For Rush, it’s personal. In 1972, a former member of the Black Panther movement was imprisoned for six months for what he called charges of fabricated weapons.
“I think the Bureau of Prisons and the judiciary need to recognize this critical issue, and they need to move immediately, if not sooner, then address this issue and release these elderly prisoners,” he said.
In March, Attorney General William Barrbureau to increase the use of domestic detention among senior prisoners who have basic conditions in response to a pandemic. Since then, they have reported that more than 7,000 prisoners have been released into the program.
This figure is not enough, said Sharon Dolovich, a law professor and director of the UCLA COVID-19 Behind Bars data project.
“These are deaths that should not have happened,” Dolovich said. “There were clear steps by which BOP was available for many months, which would reduce the risk inside, and they showed a complete reluctance to take these measures. As a result, people die.”
Dolovich and her group of researcherswithin state and federal correctional facilities. As of Monday, more than 82,000 prisoners had been infected and 735 had died, according to the draft. It stated that there were more than 5,600 cases and 56 deaths among employees.
The bureau reports that only one federal prison employee, Charlene Phillips, who was employed by Butner, died in June after contracting the virus.
The Bureau, however, does not count the deaths of another employee,who died in April. The 39-year-old head of the Grubbs case posthumously tested positive for the virus at a U.S. penitentiary in Atlanta. However, her cause of death was never determined through COVID-19, as the autopsy was not completed.
Grubs wasjust a month before her death, a role that would take her out of the zone that would put her in the neighborhood of prisoners exposed to the virus. She was a veteran of the army and worked in prison for more than ten years.