Federal prisons throughout the United States have been placed under full-on lockdown indefinitely, officials said.
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on Jan. 16 announced “temporary security measures” to secure all 122 federal prison facilities “in light of current events occurring around the country.” The measures were implemented, according to the BOP, “out of an abundance of caution.”
It isn’t clear if the lockdown was initiated due to Inauguration Day on Jan. 20 or the recent breach at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
The agency confirmed that operations were already limited due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, otherwise known as the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. Tens of thousands of prisoners and thousands of prison staff members have contracted the virus over the past year.
“In securing the facilities, the hope is that this prudent measure is for a short period and that operations will be restored to their prior status as soon as practical,” the BOP said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor events carefully and will adjust operations accordingly as the situation continues to evolve. Recognizing that communication with families is important, although it will be limited, inmates will be provided with access to telephones and email.”
The measure is merely precautionary and wasn’t prompted by any threats or information about potential threats, according to the federal agency.
“This action is precautionary, and is not in response to any significant events occurring inside our facilities. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation and assistance during this period and encourage the public to monitor this website for updated information on visiting schedules and institution operations,” the statement read.
Shane Fausey, president of the Council of Prison Locals, a union that represents about 30,000 prison employees, said the lockdown is prudent.
“The Bureau of Prisons and its professional Federal Law Enforcement employees train for all types of conditions and ways to not only manage emergencies, but more importantly to prevent serious incidents from occurring. Protecting our communities, the inmates entrusted in our care, and all of our employees that stand on the last line of defense is a responsibility that we do not take lightly,” Fausey said in a statement obtained by various news agencies over the weekend.
In the aftermath of the Capitol breach, law enforcement agencies have increased their presence in Washington and around various state capitols. Around 20,000 National Guard members have been deployed in Washington, authorities confirmed last week. Meanwhile, the FBI issued warnings for all 50 states ahead of Inauguration Day.