Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today the release of the tenth report in a series of remote inspections the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has been conducting of Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities. The report released today concerns Federal Medical Center (FMC) Fort Worth, located in Fort Worth, Texas.
The OIG’s findings included the following:
• FMC Fort Worth Cases. As of November 29, over 600 FMC Fort Worth inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 and 12 had died as a result of the disease. As of November 29, Fort Worth reported 9 active cases among its approximately 1,200 inmates and 17 active staff cases among its approximately 350 federal staff.
• Intensity of the Outbreak. The rapid growth of the outbreak at FMC Fort Worth during April and May necessitated a number of inmate transfers to local hospitals for treatment that was at times double that of normal operations. This
required the institution to assign staff to the hospitals, straining resources at the FMC.
• Facility Layout. FMC Fort Worth experienced a large-scale spread of COVID-19 within its general population units, which have open layouts in which it is inherently difficult to socially distance inmates. FMC Fort Worth took steps to increase social distancing of inmates by creating temporary units in the institution’s gymnasium and in tents erected outside in the institution yard.
• Testing. The availability of rapid testing equipment allowed FMC Fort Worth to test a greater number of inmates faster, which enabled the institution to identify and medically isolate a large number of COVID-19 positive, asymptomatic inmates.
Today’s report does not include recommendations. Rather, our inspection reports are intended to assist the BOP and DOJ in identifying strategies to most effectively contain current and future COVID-19 outbreaks. Additional reports of the OIG’s remote inspections will be released in the coming months as they are completed. The DOJ OIG also plans to prepare a capstone report providing BOP-wide conclusions and recommendations resulting from our inspections.
Background: In April, the OIG initiated a total of 16 remote inspections of selected BOP-managed institutions; contract prisons; and RRCs, sometimes referred to as halfway houses, to examine whether their response to the COVID-19 pandemic was in compliance with DOJ and BOP policy and pandemic-related guidance issued by the CDC.
Our inspections have been conducted through telephonic interviews; review of BOP documents and complaints we have received; our analysis of data from the respective institutions; and the results of a survey we issued to employees of the BOP, contract prisons, and RRCs. The OIG conducted these inspections remotely because of CDC guidelines and DOJ policy on social distancing.