Published on: Thursday, April 15, 2021

One year since they first recommended that federal prisons trim their inmate counts to maximize safety against the novel coronavirus, a Senate committee demanded answers Thursday from officials now grappling with a distressing body count. Previous coverage available here.

During this morning's hearing, it was concluded that, ""Simply put, our prison system at the federal level is failing."

To make his point that that many prisoners who qualified for home confinement didn’t receive it, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin of Jimmy Monk, a first-time offender who was convicted of bank fraud in July 2020. The 60-year-old was given a sentence of less than a year at Talladega Prison Camp, but by November he collapsed in a shower and died of Covid-19. The Bureau of Prisons reported that he had no Covid symptoms, but emails home and stories from within the prison revealed the telltale signs. 

“Why was a man like Jimmy Monk, a first-time offender, convicted on a nonviolent bank fraud offense, not placed in home confinement?” Durbin asked Michael Carvajal, director of the Bureau of Prisons for the last 14 months.

Kevin Ring, FAMM President, submitted a written testimony.

At the state and federal level, 1,700 people have died behind bars of the virus. The death toll within the federal Bureau of Prisons meanwhile includes 230 inmates and at least four staff members.