The Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today the release of a report examining the United States Marshals Service’s (USMS) response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that while the USMS has taken steps to prepare for, prevent, and manage the risks associated with COVID-19, opportunities for improvement remain.
The OIG found that the USMS’s detention facility oversight plan was inconsistent and did not ensure that all active facilities were assessed for implementation of the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. In particular, facilities operated by the USMS’s state and local government partners under Intergovernmental Agreements (IGA) did not receive the same scrutiny from the USMS as do the USMS contract facilities, although the IGA facilities house approximately 70% of the USMS’s 61,000 prisoners. Additionally, we found that the USMS had a practice of transporting prisoners without first testing to confirm that they were COVID-19 free. We believe this practice may lead to further infections and should be re-evaluated.
The OIG made six recommendations to assist the USMS in mitigating the health risks arising from the pandemic. The USMS agreed with all six recommendations.