Congressman Fred Keller leads letter to Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal demanding additional steps be taken to alleviate burden from FCI Estill movement

April 17, 2020
Press Release
Movement of 958 inmates from South Carolina BOP facility concluded Friday

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) sent a letter with Congressman Dan Meuser (R-PA) to federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal demanding a number of steps be taken to address the staffing shortages and medical needs at USP Lewisburg following the movement of 958 inmates to the facility from FCI Estill in South Carolina after that prison suffered damage in a recent tornado.


“Given that USP Lewisburg’s maximum bed space is 1,831 and there are 542 inmates currently at the facility, the movement of these 958 inmates to USP Lewisburg would increase the prison’s filled capacity to about 82 percent from its current level of 30 percent. This rapid increase in USP Lewisburg’s inmate population will create challenges for the prison’s staff who have been operating with a significantly smaller inmate population for several years. The added stress brought on by the new inmates will be compounded by the fact that more than 30 staff members from USP Lewisburg have been deployed to BOP facilities in Ohio and New York ravaged by COVID-19,” the letter reads in part.


“Moreover, local hospitals and elected officials serving the region around USP Lewisburg have expressed concern directly to the BOP that an outbreak in the prison population has the potential to increase the risk of infection to the community at-large and severely tax the resources of the healthcare providers in the region,” the letter adds.


Steps demanded of BOP include recalling the 30 staff from USP Lewisburg deployed to BOP COVID-19 hotspots and begin the quarantine process so they can come back to work at USP Lewisburg as quickly as possible; sending secondary law enforcement to USP Lewisburg to alleviate staffing shortage issues; developing a plan to transfer staff from FCI Estill to USP Lewisburg; and preparing to build a field hospital at USP Lewisburg in the event of an outbreak at the prison.


You can read the full letter HERE.


On the letter and the recent inmate movement, Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) made the following statement:


“I remain opposed to any continued movement of inmates into USP Lewisburg, FCC Allenwood, or across the Bureau of Prisons system for the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency. BOP has failed to take proactive steps to combat COVID-19 that would have allowed them appropriate options in the event of disasters like the one at FCI Estill.


“While BOP believes the movement of inmates to USP Lewisburg is the least of all bad options, it is ultimately the culmination of short-term and long-term planning failures at the Bureau of Prisons.


“While the movement of inmates to USP Lewisburg from FCI Estill came with little notice and no input from myself or the people of Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, I will continue to do everything I can to make sure the staff at USP Lewisburg have what they need to deal with this and any situation that may arise during this ongoing emergency.


“Our team is in constant contact with our local hospitals getting updates on their preparedness and resource needs. It is my hope that the Bureau of Prisons does the right thing and works to alleviate any potential strain on local healthcare providers who are tasked with treating the community and two federal prisons.


“The folks who serve the community at our local hospitals and federal prisons do a tremendous job operating on the front lines of this pandemic. I will not leave them behind.”