FCI Ray Brook to be holding site for new federal prisoners

Legislators write letter decrying lack of testing

The Federal Correctional Institute at Ray Brook is seen in April 2016. The buildings were originally built to house athletes for the 1980 Winter Olympics in nearby Lake Placid. Converting it to a prison afterward was part of the original plan. (Enterprise photo — Antonio Olivero)

RAY BROOK — The federal Bureau of Prisons plans to move thousands of new U.S. Marshals Service inmates to quarantine sites at 11 federal prison facilities around the country — including the Federal Correctional Institute at Ray Brook.

On Monday, 31 members of Congress sent a letter to the both agencies, requesting they test all inmates for COVID-19 before transferring them.

The letter was signed by northern New York’s House representative Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, as well as New York’s senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, both Democrats. The letter is addressed to BOP Director Michael Carvajal and USMS Director Donald Washington, and expresses “concern and disappointment” that inmates would not be tested before being transferred to the quarantine sites.

These sites are being set up to house U.S. Marshals Service inmates until they are cleared to move to their designated institution. The USMS is the enforcement arm of the federal courts, tasked with capturing fugitives, serving federal arrest warrants and transporting prisoners.

“We are troubled that testing is not among the preventive steps that the USMS and BOP are taking before transferring inmates to these facilities,” the letter says. “Screening without testing will not prevent the transfer of asymptomatic inmates with COVID-19, who can transmit the virus to BOP staff, even if they are completely isolated from other inmates.”

The letter said this could be disastrous, especially in rural communities. It requested the agencies not move any inmate who does not test negative for the disease. The letter also urged expanding access to testing for BOP staff.


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