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Summary of BOP Phase 9 Covid Action Plan

Friday, August 14, 2020

On August 5, 2020, the BOP announced that it is moving to Phase 9 of its “Covid Action Plan.” Major changes to operations in this Phase are summarized below. Primary areas of change include resuming transfer of inmates between institutions and to/from court, slightly expanded legal visit procedures, and resumption of some institutional programming, including residential programs, GED testing, and slightly increased recreation. Most of these areas continue to allow Wardens of institutions to adapt policies to fit conditions at each facility, or to request exemptions to procedures.  

Summary of BOP Phase 9 Covid Action Plan

Access to counsel/legal materials 

  • Continued emphasis on video/telephone court appearances and legal visits where possible. 

  • In-person legal visits should be socially distanced or separated by plexiglass. 

  • Wardens will determine access to Electronic Law Library (ELL) where possible. 

  • Recommends institutions create a schedule to “permit fair and timely access to ELL terminals” and provide to inmates. 


  • RDAP and other residential programs are to resume full time treatment; groups of more than 10 allowed, but social distancing is to remain in place. 

  • Non-residential programs (GED and Anger Management) to resume at no less than half regular capacity. 

  • Programs may be offered on housing units, or in outdoor or unused spaces for social distancing. 

  • GED testing to resume with priority for inmates releasing within 120 days. 

  • Recreation to resume with groups under 100 for at least one hour, three times a week. No group sports or gym equipment. 

  • Institutions with active COVID-19 cases may make safety exceptions to programming requirements with approval Regional Director. 

  • Needs assessments on new inmates must continue. 

  • Wardens are to develop plans to have UNICOR operations back to 80% normal operations by 9/1/2020 and 100% by 10/1/2020. 

Compliance Reviews 

  • Program Review Division (PRD) will conduct unannounced site visits to ensure compliance with Health Services Division and CDC guidance, as well as Phase Memorandums.  

  • PRD will disseminate written standards encompassing their scope of review. 

Court Trips 

  • Recommends that institutions contact US Marshals Service (USMS) and the relevant court to determine their procedures and develop an individualized strategy with health services.  

  • BOP should ask USMS to keep individuals separated from those in other housing units or institutions while at court where possible. 

  • Inmates in isolation should not go to court in-person if possible; inmates in quarantine should delay until quarantine is over, or use virtual methods. 

  • Inmates should be quarantined upon return from court.  


  • Intakes should be quarantined or isolated in single-cells, or at least kept with cohort.  

  • Intakes should be screened for COVID-19 on arrival (symptom screen, temperature check, and viral PCR test). Symptomatic and/or positive test intakes go to medical isolation until they meet CDC criteria for release.  

  • Asymptomatic and/or negative test intakes go to quarantine for 14 days. If they test positive during that time, they go to isolation; if they continue to test negative, they go to general population after 14 days.