In March 2020, the SARS Cov-2 pandemic (Covid-19) began impacting Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities where DC individuals are held. On March 13, 2020, the BOP suspended visitation to all BOP facilities, including the CIC’s on-site inspections. The CIC continued to receive email and letters from individuals inside facilities, though individuals reported that access to phones and/or email and their ability to send postal mail was limited to varying degrees due to partial or complete lockdowns at facilities. The BOP provided general information about high-level policies responding to Covid-19, but indicated that many implementation decisions were being made at the facility level due to variations in facility layout, population, and local conditions. The communications CIC received from incarcerated individuals during March and April indicated that there were significant differences in the Covid-19 response across different facilities.
The CIC also received a wealth of qualitative information from the survey respondents, some of whom wrote several pages of additional comments. This information clarified and expanded on the respondents’ survey answers, as well as highlighting other challenges that DC residents in the BOP encountered during the first four months of the pandemic. This report includes summaries of qualitative information below the relevant quantitative charts, as well as direct quotes from survey respondents.