ACLU files temporary restraining order against Oakdale federal prison


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OAKDALE, La. (KLFY) — The federal detention center in Oakdale, which has been the site of several COVID-19 deaths over the past month, is the subject of a temporary restraining order filed by the ACLU as part of their lawsuit.

“Despite the government’s directive to reduce the population in the Bureau of Prisons-run prison, Oakdale has identified just one person for release and another person has died since a court hearing on Tuesday,” stated an ACLU press release. “According to the government’s disclosure, BOP plans to only review — much less release — fewer than 100 additional incarcerated people for release due to COVID-19.”

According to the Associated Press, as of Sunday night, 38 inmates and 17 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 at the Louisiana prison. There have been six deaths there since March 21.

“The Bureau of Prisons has a fundamental obligation to protect the health and well-being of the people in its custody, and right now it is failing abysmally,” said the Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana Alanah Odoms Hebert. “Their woefully inadequate response is putting people’s lives and public health at risk. Stronger action must be taken now to avert a humanitarian and public health catastrophe before it’s too late.”

The Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It previously has said its case managers are “urgently reviewing all inmates to determine which ones” are eligible for home confinement.

Attorney General William Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons earlier this month to increase the use of home confinement and expedite the release of eligible high-risk inmates, beginning at three prisons identified as coronavirus hot spots, including Oakdale.

“We have to move with dispatch in using home confinement, where appropriate, to move vulnerable inmates out of these institutions,” Barr said in the April 3 memo to the prison system’s director.

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