ACLU files temporary restraining order against Oakdale federal prison

Updated: Apr. 13, 2020 at 6:51 PM CDT
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OAKDALE, La. (KALB / KPLC) - The ACLU is asking a federal court to take immediate action to evaluate and release medically vulnerable inmates from the federal prison in Oakdale.

Attorney General William Barr released a memo earlier this month, directing federal prisons to increase the use of home confinement due to the outbreak of COVID-19 at several facilities, including Federal Correctional Complex, Oakdale.

The civil rights group says so far only one inmate has been released from FCC Oakdale while six others have died while hospitalized.

Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal has released a video statement, disputing some of the issues raised by the ACLU.

At Federal Correctional Complex Oakdale, the death toll from the coronavirus stands at six and the American Civil Liberties Union says the bureau of prisons is not moving fast enough to protect inmates, or the public, from COVID-19.

Carvajal says the Bureau of Prisons is diligently working to identify inmates that can be released or put in home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Additional authorities granted to the BOP have allowed us to increase home confinement by over 40percent,” Carvajal said. “We continue to aggressively screen all inmates who have COVID-19 risk factors as described by the CDC, starting with inmates at Oakdale. Case management staff are urgently evaluating inmates to determine which inmates meet the criteria established by the attorney general.”

The ACLU, though, says only one inmate has been released and only 44 inmates have been identified as those who could potentially be released.

Carvajal says the CDC has assisted staff at Oakdale and agrees with measures in place to reduce transmission and manage inmates in quarantine and isolation.

“After the engagement with the FCI Oakdale, the CDC indicated that the BOP was implementing all strategies that they would have recommended.” Carvajal does call the Oakdale facility one of the “hot spots” of COVID-19 infections in the federal prison system.

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