KINGWOOD — The U.S. Bureau of Prisons on Wednesday declined to say when prisoners will be moved to Hazelton’s federal prison for quarantine.
“For safety and security reasons, we are unable to provide information about upcoming movements,” a spokesman said.
Preston County Commissioners said “options are on the table,” after meeting behind closed doors with State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on FCC Hazelton being used as a quarantine site for federal prisoners.
Morrisey met with commissioners by phone Wednesday. After 37 minutes in closed session for “legal matters,” no action was taken.
Commission President Samantha Stone said they discussed COVID-19 and the transport of prisoners.
“As things progress we will continue to look at what legal options are available to the county to possibly and hopefully stop the transport of prisoners,” to FCC Hazelton, she said.
Commissioner Don Smith said they would be reaching out to agencies recommended by Morrisey, “and once we get that information, then we will make that decision.”
Neither elaborated on the options.
The Bureau plans to use FCC Hazelton and FCI Gilmer, along with some other federal prisons in the U.S., to quarantine prisoners.
Stone said she had reached out to Morrisey.
Later, the attorney general sent The Dominion Post a statement. It read, “We are working hard to convince the federal Bureau of Prisons to not proceed with their misguided plan. West Virginians should be commended for their practice of social distancing and efforts to keep the state’s incident rate of infection very low. They should not be asked to accept any federal proposal that would interfere with or reverse that
A Bureau spokesman said last week that the BOP is required to accept inmates awaiting trial.
“U.S. Marshals are “screening inmates prior to moving them to us and inmates wear cloth face coverings during transport. If an inmate is symptomatic, we will not accept them,” the spokesman said.
New inmates will be screened, their temperatures checked daily and, if one shows virus symptoms, be placed in a single cell in an isolation unit and monitored and managed consistent with CDC guidelines, the spokesman said.
West Virginia’s governor, two U.S. senators and congressman all oppose the move.
The whole region could potentially be impacted, Smith said, because, “those employees don’t only live in Preston County.”
Prisoners should be quarantined where they are and have a negative test result before being brought to FCC Hazelton, Stone said Tuesday.