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Calls continue for feds to abandon prisoner transfer plan to West Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, Shelley Moore Capito and First District Congressman David McKinley all called Saturday for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to drop a plan to transfer some COVID-19 positive inmates from other areas outside of West Virginia to federal prisons in Preston and Gilmer counties.

Joe Manchin

“West Virginians have buckled down and closely followed state and federal guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 here in the Mountain State, and that’s why I am strongly opposing the transfer of out of state prisoners to West Virginia,” Manchin said.

Manchin also sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr opposing the plan that would use FCI Hazelton and FCI Gilmer as federal quarantine facilities.

MORE read Manchin letter to Barr here

“Instead, I respectfully request you consider helping West Virginia during this challenging time by utilizing the excess capacity at FCC Hazelton and FCI Gilmer to support efforts already underway to relieve the overcrowding in our state jails and waive the cost of housing those state inmates for the duration of the pandemic,” Manchin’s letter to Barr said.

Shelley Moore Capito

In a statement released Saturday afternoon, Capito said she understands the need for transfers within the prison system but said she’s “become increasingly concerned for the health and safety of the men and women at FCI Hazelton and FCI Gilmer as well as their families and surrounding community. We have been extremely fortunate that we have not had a coronavirus outbreak in either of these facilities, and we cannot risk one now.”

Congressman David McKinley said he had serious objections to the plans.

“If this plan moves forward, is it vital that BOP takes steps to reduce the risk by expanding testing to include inmates and staff who have not shown symptoms but may have been exposed, as well as ensuring availability of masks and PPE for staff who will be processing them,” McKinley said.

Gov. Jim Justice sent a letter to a BOP official Friday night calling on the agency to abandon its plan.

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