MOLINE – U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today released the following statement in response to the announcement from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that United States Penitentiary (USP) Thomson has been designated as one of 11 nationwide “quarantine locations” for thousands of newly-admitted inmates to the federal prison system.
“We are disturbed to learn that BOP is preparing to transfer hundreds of additional inmates to USP Thomson without appropriate preventive measures in place, such as testing all inmates to be transferred for COVID-19. Let’s be clear, screening without testing will not prevent the transfer of asymptomatic inmates with COVID-19. The Trump Administration has failed to ensure that BOP has adequate testing capacity, which could lead to COVID-19 outbreaks in rural communities, where some of the newly-designated ‘quarantine locations’ like USP Thomson are located. We urge the Department of Justice and the Bureau to immediately ramp up testing and take additional steps to protect the staff and inmates at USP Thomson and the surrounding community, including by addressing the serious understaffing issues that persist at USP Thomson.”
The announcement follows BOP’s decision last week to transfer 20 inmates to USP Thomson from Metropolitan Correction Center (MCC) Chicago, where there is a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak. In response to that decision, Durbin, Duckworth, and Bustos issued a joint statement on Friday expressing concern that the inmates were transferred without first being tested for COVID-19.