tv Hearing on Oversight of Federal Bureau of Prisons U.S. Marshals Service CSPAN January 5, 2021 11:01pm-12:45am EST
the u.s. house of representatives and the senate will lead in a joint session to tally the results of the electoral college ballots for president and vice president in the 2020 election. some are expected to use this count to object to joe biden's when in the swing states. watch live coverage at 1 p.m. eastern on c-span. you can also watch or listen on the free c-span radio app. the directors of the federal bureau of prisons and u.s. marshals service testified on capitol hill on preventing the spread of coronavirus in federal prison. they appeared before the house judiciary committee on homeland security. this runs one hour and 40 minutes. >> good morning. the subcommittee on crime, terrorism will come to order
without objection the chair is authorized to declare recess of the subcommittee at any time. with oversight of the federal bureau of prisons and u.s. marshals service before we begin i would like to remind members we have established an e-mail address and distribution list dedicated to circulating exhibits, motions or other written materials members might want to offer as a part of the hearing today. if you would like to submit, please send them to the e-mail address that has been previously distributed to the offices and we will circulate the material to the members and staff as quickly as wey can. i would ask all members those in person and appearing remotely to mute your microphones when you are not speaking. this will help prevent feedback and other technical issues. you may unmute any time that you seek recognition. i will now recognize myself for an opening statement. we welcomeme everyone to this
morning's hearing entitled oversight of the federal bureau of prisons and u.s. marshals service and welcome also to those that are joining virtually for this extremely important hearing. the last time the subcommittee held a hearing bringing together theri bureau of prisons and marshals service was in the spring of 2017. and in october of last year, doctor kathleen sawyer discussed the implementation of the first step act. this included the department of justice and regarding the rollout of the risk and need assessment tool known as patterns. today with the onset of covid-19, we must address bigger challenges. covid-19 is a worldwide pandemic that's escalating in the united states and of course this includes the prisons and jails which have become hotbeds for the virus. as of this past weekend, they reported that over 23,000 prisoners haveve tested positive for the virus. that is out of 125,000 inmates
in. by our count at least 161 people have died from covid while in custody. many of these infections and deaths might have been preventable. early on in the pandemic anticipating the severity of what was to come, the chair man and i wrote several letters to the attorney general and also to you,ey director asking you to te measures to address the many thousands of individuals in your custody. we knew they were uniquely vulnerable and we are instituting measures for nursing homes across the country, the correctional facilities were not properly providing social distancing and how can they, testing, or even providing those in custody with masks. congress passed the cares act giving the attorney general expansive authority to incarcerate those most vulnerable to covid. but this authority has been
underutilized. the website may very well say that it has placed over 18,000 people on the home confinement during these nine months of the pandemic. we do wonder whether they are tested before they were released, however. how many would have been released to home confinement under normalst circumstances? in other words, were extra people released because of what the authority he was suggesting. how many people have they released under the direct authority of the act is the point. we asked these questions and others have asked but we haven't been given any satisfactory answers. less than a month after receiving the authority to the individuals for home confinement in the first of the letters were sent to you, i visited the island in california and met with theca warden, correctional officers and those serving their sentences. i received messages from constituents, family members, advocates and prisoners themselves that they were concerned about the risk of
exposure to covid in the facility. i do want to commend the warden and staff for their openness but frankly i am concerned that they do not have the support they need. they didn't raise this concern to me, however, i am raising the concern and it is for the staff. it was clear the inmates were tested, but the staff that come and go every day were not tested. and other institutions we have heard stories of prisoners alleging the herd immunity and another was concerned that he had clear symptoms and another was concerned he wasn't receiving adequate medical care. the officers themselves did not have access to on-site testing and the incarcerated men in this institute didn't have the right ppe and other needed resources. we continue to hear from our
constituents and those to tell tales about what's going on and rolling lockdowns and the calls that get ignored, prisoners that haven't seen or spoken with rloved ones in months. facility after facility, experiences were outbreaks it to the concern particularly troubling is a report from the council on criminal justice that found incarceration facilities represented 19 out ofte the 20 clusters of covid as of august. the council highlighted that this is a particular concern because the u.s. of course has the largest incarcerated in the world behind bars. more than 1.3 million individuals in the state or federal prisons and the remainder andfe county jails. so today people in custody are five times more likely to contract covid than the general population. and even with insufficient testing there are reports that
252,000 people have contracted covid while in federal, state and local custody. over 1400 of them have died. you may have heard about the preventable death of andrea, a pregnant mother of five who contracted covid while in care. she gave birth unconscious and on a ventilator. she didn't survive and never met her child. this tragedy was less than four months later and tested positive for covid. the facility would become the largest outbreak in the country. they rightfully feel abandoned and they are scared. you are here today to provide us hopefully with answers on how you plan toto address these and others and also what resources
you are lacking.ec we continue to use similar testimonials. the majority of the individuals under the care and custody are pretrial detainees proven innocent until guilty and i understand you don't have control over the oversight you are conducting over the facilities and frankly they question whether you should consider renewing the contract depending on how these are being handled. they tested positive for the virus and the latest death toll among federal pretrial detainees is 20. i -underscore we have heard this from news reports for a reason because unlike them it's understanding that the service isn't publicly reporting any of the information. when the chair man nadler and i wrote to you in may, we
requested that he would immediately begin this information on the u.s. marshals website. we received a response with no commitmentit to report that information online it's a virtual mystery to the public and in addition referred multiple reports it was to hold the transfers among the facilities the marshall service nevertheless continued to transfer prisoners from facility to facility. in a nationwide complaint the officers and bureau has alleged the u.s. marshals do not properly test prisoners before they transport them. spreading the virus from facilities with high rates of infection to the facilities with no infection. yesterday i received information from a report reported and produced on october 209th they
reported 1800 inmates and 888 stafff tested positive for covid-19. by november 30th, there were 4,000 inmates and 1400 staff who tested positive. that's 162% increase in inmates and 60% increase in staff in just 30 days. this is pretty stark increase and seems to be correlated to the reasoning of transfers and social visiting. i've spoken with children that are terrified of their parent will die of covid while in custody. husbands and wives seeking assistance. mothers and fathers pleading on behalf of their children and as covid-19 spikes for the general population, we know this translates to more cases in correctional facilities. so today i'm thinking of the death of andrea and that of maria, who was sick with stage iv cancer and pleading to be released at home. instead she would die from
covid-19 in custody. i really want to understand especially with inmates who are very elderly or have terminal illnesses or multiple risk factors why they can't be released. it's my pleasure to recognizeo the ranking member, the gentleman from ohio. >> thank you, madam chair. welcome and thank you both for your service to the country. the federal bureau is tasked with protecting society by confining offenders in a controlled environment to the prisons and community-based facilities. thebo duty isn't to provide but also to help them law-abidingntually citizens. they have an interest in the mission because of that majority of federal inmates they will someday in fact be released. the job isn't an easy task and it's only become more complicated do to the covid-19
virus. in response to this, they undertook a number of steps to safeguard the health and safety of the staff and the public. they've prioritized inmates for confinement and do not pose a significant risk and restricted the number of visitors, limiting the number among their detention facilities. these are reasonable measures. colleagues on the other side pointed out much further. they tried to use the pandemic as a reason to let more criminals back on our streets. they even wrote to the attorney general urging him to, quote, use every tool at his disposal to release as many prisoners as possible. regardless whether they completed the process and what the plan for each, what the experts would call [inaudible] they even passed legislation in
the house to release inmates in state prisons andes local jail. think about that. democrats want to use your tax dollars to incentivize the states to put more criminals back on the streets. the consequence of these actions have deadly real-world results as we've seen. a colorado inmate released pursuant to an executive order signed by the governor related to covid-19 was arrested in a fatal denver shooting a month after his release. a 26-year-old man charged with second-degree murder with a shooting in march was released from custody by the sheriff. the previous month to contain the spread of covid-19. just a few miles from here in alexander, a man in custody for breaking into an apartment. due to concerns this man was released by a local judge over the objection of the prosecutors in april, three months later shot and killed the very woman that he attacked the year before. in spite of these and numerous
other crimes that have been committed by inmates released early, democrats are calling for more inmates to be released regardless ofle the crime or prison sentence. cleared the democrats on the committee want to open the jail, and don't forget they also want to defund the police and turn a public health crisis into a public safety crisis. i hope the witnesses will explain why they are not. then stemming from the covid-19 the nation's oldest federal agency marshals service duties are vast a protecting the federal judiciary, apprehending fugitives, managing criminal assets, transporting federal prisoners, and of course operating the witness security program. this past summer we saw the husband and son of a federal judge in new jersey become the victims of murder after they were ambushed just feet from their f front door of their hom. i look forward to exploring with
our witnesses today ways we can help to keep judges safe as we discussedd the marshall service we cannot forget the men and fowomen around the country who t their lives on the line to keep us safe. also i want to tell the director to please pass on our appreciation to the officers and employees. they have a tough job especially in the recent months with all of the violence around the country they should know they have our support. finally, president trump has been a leader on criminal justice reform with the second chance act and wise use of the presidential pardon power. he's been a champion for law enforcement and this hearing wouldn't be complete without appreciating the job president has done leading in these important areas. thank you, madam chair and i will yield back. >> thank you. it's now my pleasure to introduce today's panel. michael carvajal is the director of the federal bureau of prisons.is he began his career with the bureau in 1992 as a correctional
officer in texas. the attorney general appointed him as the bureau's 11th director on february 205th, 2020. as the director he oversees the operation of the 122 bureau of prisons facilities, six regional officers, to staff training centers, 12 contract facilities, 22 reentry management offices with oversight and management of approximately 37,000 staff and 156,000 prisoners. the honorable donald washington was confirmed by the senate and sworn in as the 11th director of the u.s. marshals service on march 209th, 2019. he directs one fourth of more than 5,000 operational and administrative employees, spanning 94 districts, 218 sub offices and for four in the field offices. he's a graduate of the military academy at west point and south texas college of law in houston texas. we welcome our witnesses and we
thank them for participating in today'ss hearing. please note that your written statement will be entered into tie record in its entirety. accordingly i would ask you summarize your testimony in five minutes to help you stay within that time there is a light on your table. when the light switches from green to yellow, you have one minute to conclude your testimony. when the light turns red it signals your five minutes of expired. before proceeding with testimony, ire hereby remind eah witness that all of your written and oral statements made to the subcommittee in connection with this hearing are subject to penalties of perjury pursuant to 18 usc, which may result in the imposition of a fine or imprisonment of up to five years or both. mr. carvajal. >> good morning, chairwoman bass, rankingg, member jordan ad members of the subcommittee. it is my privilege today to speak on behalf of the bureaus over 3700 correction professionals who work day in
and day out to support the critical law enforcement mission. i am committed to ensuring these men and women are guided by the values of respect, integrity, courage, and correctional excellence. the bureau receives a great deal of scrutiny with respect to our mission and much of it is based on misinformation or misunderstanding of what we do to keep americansp safe. i appreciate this opportunity to with the bureau what we do to maintain safety security while providing inmates the programming they need to return to our communities and their families. i've spent the majority of my professional life and career service to this agency. after serving in the united states army, is joined the buru as a correctional officer moving up through the ranks as a captain, warden, regional director, assistant director and now the director. i care deeply about our work and personal sacrifices the bureaus law enforcement officers make. the bureau currently confined 154,000 inmates in our 122
federal prisons nationwide as wellpr as 11 private prisons and nearly 200 community-based facilities. almost 80% of those inmates are serving terms for drugs, weapons or sex offenses with 41% of those being medium and high-security offenders. the safe management of those are challenging. we continue to maintain low levels of serious defaults. while ensuring that inmates engage in programs that address the reentry needs. the first step act provided furtherance to participate in the reentrynt opportunities. and we successfully mapped the very aggressive implementation deadlines that it included. essentially the first step act required assessment of risk and programming needs for all inmates in our custody. after the department of justice developed and released the risk assessment tools, we immediately began scoring all inmates with a innew tool. effective january, 2020, all inmates in custody were scored to include commitments and those
that were scored within 30 days of arriving. as the covid-19 pandemic is harshly impacting the country, it is also having a tremendous impact on the lives of our staff and the inmates. under normal circumstances, life in prison is challenging, and even more so coupled with covid-19. our pandemic response has often been mischaracterized in public forums, which is unfortunate. we have worked closely with the centers of disease control to develop the best covid-19 plan for the correctional environments. we have welcomed external stakeholders into the facilities for audits and reviews as well as conducting unannounced inspections of thee vast majoriy of the institutions to ensure covid-19 procedural compliance. these reviews are ongoing. early on we developed a quarantine isolation procedure for inmates and mandated social distancing and the use of face covering. procedures have proven effective
as is evidenced by the steep decline in inmate hospitalizations and ventilators and deaths. as the test supplies became available, we put in place to stay int and out procedures for internal inmate movement to minimize the spread of the virus. since march, we transported 18,000 inmates at risk of covid to confinement to help keep them safe.ny many have noted that its spreading within the communities, however contact tracing reveals that the virus entered the prison from the community.y. although delayed, the institutions generally mirror the community transmission rate, therefore, it is vital that we all work together, the bureau and the public to combat the threat. i am honored to speak on behalf of the bureau and staff nationwide who are working the front lines tirelessly to mitigate the spread of this virus as well as carrying on our very important mission. this is challenging, but it's vital to the safety and security of the public, our staff and the
inmates interested to our care. chairwoman bass, ranking member jordan, members of the subcommittee, this concludes my statement. >> thank you. mr. washington. >> good morning, chairwoman bass, ranking member jordan, distinguished members of the mcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the united states marshals service. as my statement for the record reflects, the marshals service has an array of critical law enforcement missions, all of which we've continued to accomplish despite the challenges presented this year. my complete statement is available to you all, so i just want to briefly highlight to current areas of operation that reflect our diversity and importance as a law enforcement entity. first, not many people realize that in addition to the core missions of apprehending fugitives, transporting and housing prisoners, protecting
the judicial process and running the federal witness security program, we are also responsible for the strategic national stockpile securityty operations program. enhanced after 9/11, the national stockpile failed in important need to have pharmaceuticals and other medical materials available for quick dissemination to the american people in times of national need, such as a man-made or natural disaster or a pandemic. the marshals provided security controls for the stockpile, including storage and transportation of medical trmaterials. i am very pleased to report that our deputies are already working hand-in-hand with operation warp speetwo provide security for covid-19 vaccines from the facilities where they are manufactured to the distribution sites. we have teams of highly trained marshals service deputies that are executing this mission and this demonstrates another way that this agency provides for the safety and security of the
nation's citizens. the second area i want to highlight relates to critically missing children. we are recognized as the preeminent agency for locating and apprehending fugitives, we found an equally important application for the people finding skills. in 2015, this subcommittee gave the marshals service and added statutory authority as part of the justice for victims of trafficking act. this authority enhanced the ability to use our resources to assist federal, state and local law enforcement entities with the recovery of missing, endangered, and abducted children. previously, wed could only help find critically missing children when there was a connection to a fugitive or a sex offender investigation. under this new authority, we established a missing, child ut in 2016, and ever since we have been partnering with our federal, state s and local authorities to recover missing children.
many of whom are older runaways who are at risk from a very high risk of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse and physical abuse. since august alone, this agencies missing child unit has conducted six operations in districts around the country aimed at locating and recovering local missing children. the results speak for themselves. in these operations, we've recovered or located 181 children, 22 of which were known victims of sex trafficking. beneath those numbers are real people. a few weeks ago, foster parents of a child we've recovered in new orleans sent me this e-mail and it reads colonco dear director washington, thank you for saving our foster son. when 13-year-old alec was abducted in mid-october, we were put in touch with your missing
children's units team here. the coordinated efforts, calm energy, vigilance, search tactics and quick communication provided relief and results. they stayed in touch with us at every turn giving us hope when we had little. we cannot thank you enough for the great work your team down here does. if we can impress upon you anything, it is that this program should continue to be funded and provide resources. without these efforts, we fear where our son may be today. thank you again for the commitment you've instilled in your team. we are forever grateful. best, chelsey and eric nelson. committee members, these two missionn areas that i've highlighted demonstrates this agencies diverse mission and commitment to public safety. i thank you for the opportunityr to be here today, and i look forward to answering your questions or any questions that you might have. thank you.
>> again, let me think both of the witnesses for being here today and for your service. i'd like to ask unanimous consent to enter documents into the record. one from the sentencing project, and the other from the american federation of government employees. thank you. we will now proceed under the five minute rule with questions, and i will begin by recognizing myself for five minutes. the justice department's inspector general has reported that the federal correction complex in oakdale, louisiana, failed to isolate or quarantine prisoners who were exposed or tested positive to covid-19. the report found that some inmates who tested positive for left in their housing units for up to six days without being isolated. in the covid-19 pandemic response plan, they require a person who tests positive for covid-19 be immediately placed
under medical isolation. so i would like to ask, mr. carvajal, what is your response to this, and why are covid positive prisoners not immediately isolated from the general population and federal facilities? >> thank you, chairwoman bass. they are. we do have procedures, and good procedures when they are followed. in that a nutshell, we had leadership issues. we sent i out men, attorney general bar actually sent a couple staff over and we sent a review and regional director had concerns about the procedures not being enforced or followed. without getting the details, i removed the leadership. the warden was removed from his position. >> good. i appreciate that. so in your facilities there are inmates and staff provided with masks, gloves and the ability to practice good hygiene? >> that is absolutely correct. they are. we do have the same challenges as everyone else i believe in the country and the world.
people have a personal accountability here also. we have to enforce the rules, but people have to make a conscious effort to follow the rules and procedures that are in place for a reason. we have been in lockstep with cdc guidance from day number one. it is well published, ther thers length. i've done information messages. we have covid review compliance teams unannounced. prior to me being the director, an unannouncedan visit at the facility was unheard of. we have reviewed almost 100% of the facilities. ..
>> as they have become available we have gained access to them. if i remember correctly, we partnered with a local community of public health carent, other communities and the union itself at times gained resources and now i'm happy to say we have a contract, hi val one - - high-volume testing contract
we can offer the testing. in many places we have offered 100 percent testing. people don't want to take it. we cannot make them. >> like staff? >> it is voluntary. >> i'm going to run out of time. we have heard accounts in marshall's custody being moving across county lines placed into local jails with no information on their paperwork if they have been tested or not. >> i have not heard that particular complaint but i can say the good men and women of the marshall services are very interested to make sure our inmates are healthy and safep.. >> are they tested before they are transferred? >> yes. we are testing for example all inmates that go to facilities are being tested.
at least a large portion of them are and we have authorized funding for all state institutions in which prisoners are housed. >> are you aware of the breakouts that are taking place from prisoners being transferred? >> yes. of course i have seen the media reports and we also know when there is an issue. >> are the media reports accurate? >> generally so-so. >> my time has expired. >> thank you madame chair and for holding this hearing. thank you director washington and for appearing this morning thank you both for your service to our country and to your respective agencies. this year has been particularly difficult for everyoneev with the ongoing
covid-19 pandemic we've had to stay home and socially distance and follow cdc guidelines to help reduce the spread of the deadly virus. similarly, you have had three challenges to protect your staff and the spreading population that you serve to make sure they don't contract through your employees and the inmates this to the virus. now in the ranking members opening statements mr. jordan mentioned democratic leadership in this committee sent a letter to the attorney general encouraging you to use
every tool at your disposal to release as many prisoners as possible. that would be completely irresponsible as i think most people would agree actly and pue public directly at risk. director, how do you take into consideration the seriousness of the inmates and the risk of recidivism r before sending someone into home confinement? would you look at with that type of determination? >> congressman there are several criteria are the ones in particular refer to which you talk about there are four criteria listed that we don't deviate it cannot be violent or terrorism or no detainer. there was numerous other criteria i could list them if you like that were somewhat
discretionary but absolutely we take into consideration public safety in fact the attorney general's guidance to me in two separate memorandum stated to maximize the use of this authority we absolutely have a responsibilitysp not to release to overburden the community so we look at public health and public safety anyone that is eligible under that criteria i assure you has been reviewed and if appropriate transferred to community custody just as directed. >> what tools does the bureau used to monitor inmates after they are released into home confinement? >> everyone needs to understand that home confinement in and of itself is a transitional program set up at the end of their sentence to transition into community the c.a.r.e.s. act has us looking at inmates otherwise may not meet that
criteria you are talking long-term placement in the community we didn't have the resources 94 percent of those on home confinement are monitored through contracts everyone needs to understand they use gps. these are not law enforcement personnel we don't have the staff to monitor 94 percent are monitored by a contract staff but they are not law enforcement they check on the people the other 6 percent monitored by the probationed office. >> i have been a longtime supporter and advocate for prison industries when they are confined for a period of time the vasthe majority will get out at some point we prefer to the lowest recidivism as possible but thosed involved in the skill to
put to work in the private sector has a better chance of not committing more crimes so how does covid and the restrictions impacted the prison industry program? >> absolutely. we know 24 percent or less likely to recidivate and are more likely to have a job actually it is our number one evidence-based program but it has been impacted like all other organizations we are down 2000 workers generally we employ a 10000 inmates there's always a waiting list we are down 8000 we are projected to have a $27 million earnings last year.
because our factories were doing well under the first step act. we close the year with a $3 million deficit. we have to get that back on track to give people the opportunity to get the jobs out there. >> thank you very much. >> thank you for yielding and thank you to the director for your service to the country and head of the us marshals as well. my time is very short. i will shorten my question. us marshal, the question i would like to follow up is those that you are able to secure and also acknowledge your work with children come from many different facilities. there has never been aio question or a source of information about the covid-19 protocols or the status of
these individuals coming from facilities that do not follow the bureau of prison protocol andth testing. do you have the data about the people in custody ifco they had been tested or facilities are following covid-19 with those protocols and also whether or not anyone has died in your custody from covid-19 i need to move to the director. >> yes. we do have some data. the difficulty of course is we have a hundred facilities as the chairwoman indicated of the 2 million prisoners in the united states we have 63000 spread out over a hundred facilities so it has been a difficult exercise with consistent and accurate data what we have been able to accumulate is not recorded at the same time that we do have some data in terms of the
numbers that have tested positive and deaths and things of that sort. >> let me makeke this request my official request is you find the capacity for collecting the data and submitting particularly as much as you can garner particularly those hospitalized and any that have died in whatever authority you have to the facility we pay them to send a notice you want to provide testing protocols under your federal custody and hopefully look into that to how much data you can provide us with.
>> that's what we are trying to stop is that extensive community threat thank you for your service director, thank you again the aclu filed a lawsuit october 27 regarding the covid-19 and federal facilities in north carolina that reconfigured housing units have not been configured for social distancing. and during a hearing you committed to new efforts for alternate living. what progress have you madein dealing with social distancing? have you continue the waiver of the copayment for incarcerated persons? it makes it very difficult for them. also to raise the question why we are allowing the mindset for individuals who on the front line to deny or reject
testing i know there are unions i don't know if there representing individuals i would like to question them as a strong supporter of their work ethic but you cannot come here and say to us they don't want to get tested. i will be asking people to get vaccinated and i know that's a challenge but they don't want to get tested? i thank you need to come up with a response how you can more effectively deal and make sure that all of your staff tested because this is extremely important if you can share your best answers. >> yes we are still waiting for covid related illness we have expanded the use two things we have done in those areas that was challenging we did have challenges with the reduction of population we can
spread people out we put target population levels on the most vulnerable so they are a 50 percent capacity we also use the covid funding to purchase tents with temporary housing we borrow tents from the military to distance people out and provide alternative living areas we made use of every available space for housing to get that in place. prisons are both for that. the last portion of your question, i cannot mandate someone to take a test. if i could i would be doing itt already. >> my time is up but let me indicate your individuals are on the front line. maybe we need to help you with that. i understand civil liberties in the constitution but individuals coming in contact
with incarcerated persons who cannot walk away or get out that means they are endangering themselves and their families athe home. so the numbers of your men and women may have lost their life to have a number? >> inmates or staff? >> 145 inmates and three staff. confirmed one was listed posthumously being causative positive because of death is not listed as that. >> thank you chair and thank you to our witnesses for being here. i know this is a difficult time but back when i was a judge and paying close attention to felony facilities federal and state, we had a
problem called aids glad to see the majority's interest now. was shocked at how little people have little regard in congress regard to aides spreading through federal prisons so it looks like there is a more appropriate interest now even though that was much more of a deadly disease. do you have any idea what the percentageli of the mortality rate of those who are positive withwi covid-19 within the prison system? >> that is a difficult question to ask because there's so many moving pieces even my medical experts are challenged.
we have a lot of positive cases as done everyone. the majority are asymptomatic that's why testing is important. we have been able to identify presymptomatic cases and utilize that to help mitigate the spread of the virus. we have been able to fly on the curve even though the deaths were at a higher rate early on we haven't had as many on ventilators which is key. averages six or eight lately even with the last spike at one point we had 150 inmates at the hospital at one time now it is between 18 and 20 depending on the spike but less people are dying now from this disease. even though the numbers show a high positive rateho, at least 50 percent at this point are asymptomatic.
i know they are sick with a virus that's what we went to isolate and quarantine them but we can do that better with testing. >> i would encourage your positions talking about people being put on ventilators the doctor has done some great research with the use of steroid nebulizers to protect the alveoli. that seems to be helpful. what percentage of the prison population are in the united states illegally? >> off my head i want to say it's about 15 percent non-us citizens i don't know the exact number of illegal reentry i don't about 15 percent non-us. >> was a higher than that one time? >> i believ' so.
>> because that percentage was reduced because of the covid crackdown on the border. have you seen y it yourself? >> i want to misspeak i would have to ask somebody for the data. >> can you get that quick. >> yes. >> from my experience as a judge, it seems 70 percent of those incarcerated had either in alcohol or drug problem alcoholics or drug addicts. do you have any idea what percentage you are looking at in the federal prison system? >> i don't know the exact percentage congressman but we do have a lot of programming tailored toward alcohol and problems a lot of those are geared toward that.
>> have those been impacted by covid with the ability to have regular meetings? >> absolutely. we have been impacted by covid just like everyonels else. early on we suspended programming at some point. we have resumed. it varies depending on the infection at the facility but we are about 50 through 70 percent programming back to normal we have found creative ways just like the school systems have to resume programming. we have military inmates can find with federal transfer has that been impacted by covid? >> a quick answer. you are out of time. >> the entire system has been impacted i don't know about the military. >> thank you madame chair and thank you for shedding light on these issues.
as we continue to grapple with covid-19 case after case shows us how difficult it is to contain the virus. everyone must do their part to protect one another and we have seen one single unsafe environment has ripple effects especially with the responsibility to provideem safety measures for workers because if they don't lives are on the line nobody knows is more than the family of robin who was an army veteran and i case worker at a facility in atlanta. i represent georgia she was promoted to a new role to help those who completed their sentences to return to their families and communitiesmu. should be helping them get a brand-new star but despite her promotion she never got to start a new job or moved to a new office in another building instead kept for an additional month and her old role in her old office located in an area
they started to use to house those infected are exposed to covid-19. according to coworkers she tried to buy her own mask while she waited for her office move and to be provided sufficient ppe her parents knew she was at risk they dropped off a care package with cough suppressants and hand sanitizer sadly she was found dead in her home posthumously she tested positive for covid-19 and her father says he was told the talk soldiert report did not reveal any other alternative cause of death according to a news report inan april the spokesperson said official cause of death has not yet been determined as the autopsy is not yet complete but since then they spokesperson for the georgia bureau of investigation said an autopsy was not performed on robin
because she tested positive for covid-19 which was listed as the probable cause ofse deat. as of today bop does not list any covid 19 staff death at the facility where she worked and has not acknowledged she likely died of covid-19. does bop disagree with a determination that covid-19 possible cause of death? if so what evidence does it rely on to make that decision? >> what happened to robin is with anyone who dies for that matter. i don't know if we've ever disagreed with anything at an hour you are getting your information i'm not a i medical expert but we are simply saying what we are given that last piece of information from the georgia bureau, i don't
have that information we never disputed or debated we call it like we see it. the paperwork we were given did not determine a cause of death. we are not disputing it. i would not do that. she was one ofof our staff. >> thank you for that answer but the border prison website we just had a chance to look at doesn't actually show her death. it shows the death of two staff members. are you planning on updating the website to identify the fact that robin did die and was an inmate death? >> you are correct it list two. again, i don't know all the specifics or legalities or that is but in know the bureau of prisons is not disputing that that young lady passed away from. our website, we are criticized
regardless if we put it out there i will have you know that staff criticized us for acknowledging her death at all early on. we were scrutinized because we wanted to tell people about this. nobody has been trying to hide anything regardless of what's on the website w somebody will not like the information. we are not disputing it is a sad situation a bothers me i'm even talking about this. she was one of my staff. >> in spite of what anyone thinks would you be willing to update the website to make sure you are identifying and inmate actually died within the care of the board ofe prisons? >> again, i will speak to whatever reason it is not updated. i follow the advice, there is reasons we do that. i will get back with you.
i assure you and will address the issue of the staff member passingg away. >> i appreciate the updates going forward i give the balance of my time to the chairwoman. >> thank you. >> let me just say quickly that no one on either side of the aisle is calling for the indiscriminate release of prisoners but what we are concerned about our prisoners that could be medically compromised with those with terminal illnesses why would they be confined to now? elderly, illnesses up the mat risk for respiratory or heart conditions and those in pretrial detention that are not a risk to publicirar safety the majority of the inmates come from communities that are already disproportionatelyal impacted. we want to make sure they are tested and medically cleared before released protects the prison staff and the general public representative.
>> we think the witnesses for being here today this has been a challenging year for our nation with the impact of the pandemic to be fell by every american institution and the criminal justice system has had to adapt to ensure justice is served no matter the circumstances. we must continue to seek improvement to the justice system to guarantee victims of crime and families are never robbed of that justice at the same time we must ensure there is transparency throughout the system i appreciate from hearing the witnesses today how the pandemic has affected their agencies and that they continue to operate safely in the best interest of the american public. first of want to commend us marshals service for their tremendous workthth to rescue 33 children last month in virginia including parts of myy district.
protecting the nation's children from predators is a top priority for me can you expand in your earlier remarks of the pandemic has impacted pursuing predators and those children that are exploited and trafficked? >> thank you for the question. first of all thanks for house resolution and the danger for the us marshals act it's something that we need. the pandemic has taken its toll over the country inside of our agency we have had to adjust with the number of fugitives as an example the us marshals service will arrest 100,000 nation's worst criminals on any given year that number will be about 80000 this year as an example so we will see the impact in terms of workload but it has
also impacted the way we look and feel about each other for example we took note over the death of george floyd's so we had the opportunity to do that with racial inequality and use of force. on the other side, workload has been tremendous that we have people that are at home and deputies have to go to court every day and in terms of courts to ensure that the rule of law functions i will be honest with you we need staff you probably heard that before we asked for 280 additional positions in the fy 21 budget and when you make
those type of request and to do whatever we can to increaseg those resources with even more fugitive operations and child rescue. >> regarding recruiting us marshals carry out dangerous locations unlike the doj counterparts the us marshals service is not eligible for danger pay was is a serious problem. and introduced on a bipartisan basis. can you talk about the impact on recruitment and if these men and women are serving overseas to put themselves in harm's way shouldn't they also receive danger pay and how does that impact your ability to recruit the best and
brightest? >> the pandemic on that issue so let me back up just a little bit the fbi and dea have those authorities to pay for their agents but those who doro extraordinary dangerous work and to be a drug traffic or working with authorities inside the country's at levels of don't think the other agencies do. in fact we have relationships in those countries that give us a little bit of a leg up. we also have their families as well so this year we had to
remove people from those offices because of the pandemic and then we had to send them back they can look across the table in mexico city next to the dea agent and not getting the same compensation for work that is equally as dangerous that we need to level out that our officers. >> thank you for your service to our country. they have two options to seek protection we talked about this seeking the remainder of
home confinement and compassionate relief home confinement is solely by the bop and he talked about the consideration of public safety something that all of us acknowledge needs to be the primary driver here but then whether they are available to serve in the home confinement and for some context the former chair president trumps campaign was transferred to home confinement due to covid-19 fears and has served less than his sentence in may 2h former lawyer cohen qualified for home confinement and was released and they were released due to concerns of the pandemic and prisons. they are valid concerns. since may of this year only
about one.8 percent of prisoners have been moved too complete home confinement most of the denied a transfer. so how many prisoners have been approved by the bureau of prisons for transfer to home confinement? to have that number? >> if i understand your question correctly it's over 18000 we place it in home confinement since the passage of the c.a.r.e.s. act. >> how they qualify for home confinement? >> what i can tell you anybody placed on home confinement regardless of who they are outlined by the c.a.r.e.s. act by the attorney general he issued two separate memorandums to me with guidance there is a reason i
don't get involved if there is anything discretionary to be reviewed outside of the criteria it rises to a committee at the level the other meet the criteria or they don't. >> i appreciate that i'm not sure i understand the higher level analysis of expertise required by two other cases not paul manafort but those it was confined there is a description to the judge she did not receive medication in treating her breast cancer since march 5th of this year and how the lockdown due to covid has caused medical care to deteriorate her condition
and she was not released and passed away from covid and those in springfield missouri described the judge others 30 cases of covid the facility is on lockdown and he was housed in a 24 hour medical care unit seeking and unfortunately he well. as how many prisoners over the age of 65 have been transferred to home confinement.
>> i don't have the exact numbers i will have to follow up with you but there is a difference between the compassionate relief process one - - release process. >> i understand. i understand. i understand the difference well what i don't understand is the seeming disparity of treatment that permitted to individuals who may have had underlying conditions that were released for those who have clearly had underlying challenges and wound up happy on - - wound up dying of covid-19. 's age 65 and those who are medically vulnerable and the bureau responded there are 837 but only five would be transferred to home confinement all it. ask and those steps to provide the
same protections as those that were provided to these two individuals who have close relationships with the president of the united states. i yield back. >> thank you to both of you for your service to your country and your employees have a very dangerous job majority of americans appreciate their hard work. i will letter dated march 30t march 30th, 2020 from chairman nadler and the chairwoman to attorney general bar. for your memorandum the party
should be given to inmates and low minimal security facilities and then to weigh against home detention. i think that's reasonable. those that are at high risk to contract covid-19 who are not in lower minimum security facilities and convicted of serious offenses or have high discourse. even individuals on these categories should be assessed forre release because they have been vulnerable. we further urge you to assess
the risk of contracting covid-19 of every individual in bop custody regardless of the type of institution and the seriousness of their offense or the potential recidivism which they may present. we can take reasonable common sense measures of those that are low risk to society that madame chairman i am concerned for them to release even those convicted of serious offenses this isn't a person that was in federal prison but this is an example. this man was indicted ever rape of a woman last year and released in april because of the coronavirus.
and then has been accused of fatally shooting his accuser. this is the picture of the man. and we have to take reasonable measures to protect not only the inmates but your employees i certainly don't think the majority of americans to hunt dangerous criminals to be released into our communities i want to tell you that but also with one minute left do either one of you have anything you'd like to add you don't have the option to talk about? >> i just want to say anyone eligible under the criteria that they met the criteria and was safe as public safety factor has been released from
custody want to keep people safemo regardless. may have committed a crime of violence or sex offense and he goes back to what you are saying we have a responsibility the court processed and the judge found them to come to custody and we want to take serious and then to build compassionate relief and then to be imposed by the core. >> thank you madame chair for
yielding and your tremendous leadership of this hearing are two witnesses. director, covid-19 is a serious disease. is that correct? >> yes congressman it is, potentially fatal in some instances? >> yes sir. >> there are 24000 of one - - individuals testing positive is that right? >> yes sir. >> approximately 145 federal inmates have died as a result is that true? >> those that died and bureau of prisons of custody. >> and at a hearing before the senate in june you stated that prisons by design are not made for social distancing they are on the opposite is that
correct? >> you reiterated earlier prisons are not built for social distancing is that true? >> the public health expertsdi have indicated it is an important tool to combat the serious end of the covid-19 virus. is that right? >> that is correct. >> given the circumstances the inmates find themselves in, as you have testified it seems like the presumption should be to utilize the tools available to allow inmates relief from this potentially deadly virus. is that fair to say?
>> it is and that's what we are doing. >> part of my concern those tools made available to including the emergency provisions and the powers under the c.a.r.e.s. act with the was a part of the first step act. >> correct. >> and with that compassionate release provision during the covid-19 pandemic the federal courts have granted those with compassionate relief. >> that sounds about right. >> your prisons can also initiate the notion for compassionate relief is that correct. >> part of my concern with those first three months the bureau of prisons approximately.1 percent of compassionate release reques
request. >> i don't know the exact number but it was a low number. >>. >> 10229 request out of 10940 were rejected is that right? >> i don't have the exact numbers congressman. >> you just testified that we should utilize the tools available and on the bipartisan basis to alleviate the pain and suffering and death connected to the covid-19 pandemic. but the numbers don't suggest you are actually doing that. can you explain why there has been such low utilization with compassionate releaseli? >> yes i can first of all talking about reducing the
sentence imposed by the judge of the court we consider public safety. we review to everyone under home confinement because that's a quicker process to get themr out. the inmate has the ability to go straight to the court. also the bureau of prisons does not make the final determination someone is for compassionate release we are simply recommending to the judg judge. there is a 30 day window then the and making go directly to the core that's why they have released more. it's a link the process to go into that. >> thank you for that. the issue is that you have had at least two dozen individuals who have died in prison waiting for a compassionate release request if not signed
off on by bureau of prisons that seems inconsistent with the presumption we should be doing all that we can to alleviate the pain and suffering and the tight quarters of the penitentiary you mentioned consistently the notion that we got individuals who engage in serious crimes and those of public safety risk but what we been talking about is someone who was in prison on a nonviolent offense of medicare fraud and too many of these instances is a shame because that should not be a death sentence. i yield back. >> has violent crime increased
in major urban areas? >> aggravated assaults of 14 percent, homicide up 53 percent in major urban areas should big cities be defunding police $1 billion los angeles 150 million and reductions san francisco 120 million baltimore 23 million portland oregon 16 million does that make sense. >> not to me. is ahead of a law enforcement agency charged with handling violent crime and in many of those cities we deploy marshals to participate on various task forces. >> those that defend the police department should we be releasing more criminals early back into those neighborhoodsei?
>> i don't think we should. >> that's what democrats want to do. not just as the chairwoman said. that they would not be a harm to the community is not what they said in theei letter. and with all those that which they are housed regardless of the seriousness of their offense. and the risk to the communitiesmu so everyone wants relief in the environment where we already have 53 percent increase of homicide rates in all run by democrats exactly what they want to do. does that make sense? >> and then to as a result of
the those in kansas city missouri a 40 -year-old in bed shot and killed is not something we want to happen. and those to participate in various cities around the country just received the data yesterday on the 20th week of operation legend. 1000 folks who fit the categories of homicide, sexual assault, robbery. >>. >> not only to relieve back into communities where there is an elevated state of violent crime where they are defunded but to release early
regardless of the seriousness of their event they want taxpayers to pay for it. i forgot about that the introduce legislation that said we want to pay states to do what i just described. such a deal for the taxpayer. no wonder. think of the small business owner in portland who pays off local taxes only to have businesses destroy downtown when the mob took over the street and now democrats are saying use your federal tax dollars to put more criminals on the streets. does that make any sense to you at all? >> of course of not a politician i just run from a law enforcement perspective it does not make sense. >> there is one other step it gets better we just learned
that 15 percent inmates in the bureau of prisons are illegal immigrants. >> non-us citizens. regardless of the seriousness of their offense we want taxpayer money to release illegal immigrants regardlessen of their offense and those are defunding the police. that committed craziest thing of ever her but that's exactly their policy and frankly i would ask unanimous consent along with chairman nadler to the attorney general that spells out what i just described.
>> i don't know if anyone on either side of theno aisle calls for defunding the police the way the ranking member talks about myy city. >> regardless of the type of institution in which they are house the seriousness of their offense or the recidivism they may present. i did not write to that. you did. that is human chairman nadler. with the seriousness of their offense is not in a letter that is one thing but that's not what you wrote on march 30t. >> we can debate theh 20 letter. >> were not debating the letter that is what is in the letter. >> you are mischaracterizing it. >> i am reading your words. >> thank you madame chair i do want to say i thought this was a serious body here to talk about governing and protecting
public health and publicc and not a campaign commercial. i thought the campaign was over. but sadly we're seeing mischaracterization of other members work grotesquely. number one i thank you both for the work you do and the teams you have assembled those up their own lives and health at risk. and i would like to know more about this during covid compliance with mask wearing along with staff and among inmates, are you able to get full compliance with simple mask wearing because you are challenge with confinement in closed spaces? >> it is tough enforcement and accountability and expectation we expect people to work and we expect from everyone that
their personal accountability to follow rules. we accompany outside inspections and unannounced inspections just this week i sent someone to verify because i have people complaining concerning recent ad and institutions we sent a team for that reason. >> you are in the business of supervising and overseeing so i would thank you have the tools in place to deal with the pandemic and the need for these measures. talking about compassionate release i want to make clear when you testify that 18000, 112 inmates or return
to home confinement that is not compassionate release only 11 people out of nearly 11000 in the first three months who had applied received that. i want to be clear when we talk about 18000 people going to home confinement, they were going there anyway you under thee protocols. am i correct? >>. >> it has those that would not have been considered at least at this point in time for home confinement. that compassionate release numbers are lower that is a lengthy process. under the policy. >> i appreciate that and in
the balancing of the urgency of covid against the whether or not it is appropriate for compassionate release. and that is identified as a 2000 going to home confinement can you break down the number? how many were headed anyway or as a result of the reassessment of covid? >> i have the exact numbers in front of me. i will tell you as of right now 8000 are on home confinement currently about 60 percent are c.a.r.e.s. act specifically that would not have ordinarily been at this point i'm not saying they would neverr be eligible. >> i'm trying to keep it tight with my time.
and those that have been released for compassionate care i'm hoping there is more than 11 that seems incredibly sad and breaking down of the 8000 are in home confinement. i appreciate all of that. i would like to ask something i have been concerned about with what is use of shackling pregnant women while in confinement. can you speak to the use the shackles on pregnant women in your agencies? >> we do not do it. we have procedures in place and we have amended policies it happened one time since
passing the act. it was documented and it was a mistake for all practical purposes. the female was identified as being pregnant and the same day that person did not have time to enter it dhave. we have good procedures in place to identify and respect their rights. it was less than fivee minutes if it is done is reported all the way up to the medical director and the administrator with the review conducted. . . . .
mr. washington, if you could speak on that data, if you could confirm you said you believed it wasn't the case so i wanted to know if you could confirm. >> yes, ma'am. the final member. let me just say representative klein had to go back to his office o but wanted to express o you, as do i, our joy in working with you over the last couple of years and the leadership that you have displayed here in congress. we just want you to know how much you will be missed and we hope to see you again in the future. >> thank you so much, chairwoman bass and all of my colleagues. it's been an honor to serve with all of you even in the most contentious times. i truly will carry these
experiences with me and i hope that we will all meet soon again after i'm done with serving here in the house of representatives. thank you so much, chairwoman. thank you to the witnesses for appearing this morning. it's such an important public health issue. but i want to just start setting the record straight responding to some of the points the ranking member has made. he continues to accuse democrats of failing to keep the communities safe and that is the furthest thing from the truth. it's republicans and members like him on the rule of law trying to overturn the will of the people. yesterday one of the presidents attorneys called for chris kreps to be taken out because he wouldn't go b out on the line fr the administration because he said there was no evidence of
fraud. it is the democrats that are fighting to save lives during this pandemic and it is the democrats who are constantly trying to keep our communities safe and to save the lives of those who are incarcerated, because we realize that there is respect and dignity to every human life. now, director carvajal, i sent a letter back in april and we have in my district one of the prison bureaus in miami. it's a little facility that holds about 900 inmates and employees several hundred staff. 130 inmates have tested positive forr covid-19, and unfortunately we have lost one life at that facility. so i would urge you that you would make voluntary testing available to the staff immediately. it's difficult for them to travel long distances to get those tests and it's not just for the safety of the inmates and the staff, but it's also for
the safety of the community here in miami. now i want to return quickly to another issue and that is the deployment of the teams to respond to the protest over the murder of george floyd. in june we receive reports that showed tactical teams were sent to washington, d.c. and miami. the teams sent to miami stayed in a hotel for a few days and left after the protests because they were nothing but peaceful. there was nothing at risk and we didn't see violence. director, when were the tactical teams sent to miami, if you could shortly, quickly answer that question. >> congresswoman, they were there only a few hours. we actually redirected them back to dc and yes, they were deployed. >> and who made the decision and what was the rationale for that? >> as do know, we are a component of the department of justice.
the attorney general department of justice requested assistance in the law enforcement mission. they called us and i made the decision after consulting with my leadership team to make sure that we could send the personnel, and we did. >> and were these teams trained in civilian crowd control? >> congresswoman, they were trained in crowd control. it's actually what we do. >> so c i'm assuming the special operations response team received training on appropriate inmate [inaudible] >> we have the planning in place to train for civil disturbances. that is not on the prison disturbances. we train the personnel in that. >> okay. thank you. director washington, since june of 2020, how many times have the bop agents or employees been deputized as u.s.ar marshals? >> since june of 22, i don't
remember any agents being deputized as marshals. >> go ahead. >> if i may assist, our personnel who were deployed are deputized by united states marshals. it was done on flight before they ever took to the patrolling. that was done because by statute, our authority is limited in the bop and anytime we are deployed we often deploy to every major natural disaster out there. our staff are always deputized before they go out on control. >> and let me ask you something that i saw. some of the personnel were concealing identities and other identifying -- what was the purpose of that? >> i would like to correct the
record. i appreciate you asking. no one was instructed to remove anything. i was asked the question in a virtual press conference and i answered very bluntly. q i had failed to properly mark our people because we deployed in such a quick manner. we don't usually worry about that. having an institution marker on you doesn't mean anything in the city if you don't know what that prison looks like. we did correct that immediately and within two days we markedim the staff and they standardized the markings for them now. >> i thank you for that. we actually did see that they were unidentified and it poses a risk to the safety, to the overall safety of the community so i do hope that you will hold those that did that and that didn't follow the appropriate procedures accountable. thank you and i will yield back. >> thank you very much. before we adjourn i just want to say one, i want to thank you
again, both of the witnesses for coming today. let me thank you for taking the time to come and for your work. in addition to raising concerns, and again we want to know how to best help you. we would have liked to have done a second panel. if we had done a second panel, i would have invited donte wes morlan who was sentenced to seven years in kansas with a first-time marijuana charge and ironically if from california, what he had done wouldn't have even been a crime in fact. he could have opened up his own business. i want to say to public safety, its safetit's safety from violet also i safety from covid in ters of the general community and my concern is both for the inmates and also the staff. as well, not dying just the inmates. and so, reducing the prison population, safely, protects the health and safety of inmates and the general community. and we will continue to call as it says in the memo, we further
decision to tally the results of the electoral ballots for president and vice president in the 2020 election. some republican lawmakers are expected to use this count to object to joe biden's when in numerous swing state. watch at 1 p.m. eastern on c-span. you can also watch on c-span.org or listen on the free c-span radio app. the epa administrator andrew wheeler announced a new agency rule regarding the use of scientific research and rulemaking processes. mr. wheeler joined the competitive enterprise institute for this hour-long event. >> good morning, everyone, and a special welcome to the expanded audience through coverage by c-span. i'm at the competitive enterprise institute for the next hour i will be your host for a conversation on how science is used in the development of regulatory li