D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton penned a letter addressing the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Michael Carvajal, asking BOP to investigate conditions at Hope Village, the men’s halfway house in the District, where two inmates reportedly died from the coronavirus over the past few days.
She explained that BOP should release as many residents from Hope Village as possible both for the safety of the facility’s residents and the community.
“After the troubling deaths of two residents in three days at Hope Village, it is imperative that residents on their way home from prison be released as soon as practicable and that the Federal Bureau of Prisons visit the facility,” she said about her letter.
“Residents should be immediately released whenever possible and appropriate so that they can go home and be safe from the coronavirus, as opposed to being held in close proximity to others in an environment where the virus could easily be transmitted. Almost all of these residents are on their way out of the criminal justice system as it is, most of them having already served most of their sentences in BOP or the D.C. jail. Thus, releasing them a little earlier for their protection and for the protection of the staff at Hope Village would be in the best interest of all concerned.”
Norton’s letter is as follows:
“Dear Director Carvajal:
I understand that a resident of Hope Village, the men’s residential reentry center, or halfway house, in the District of Columbia, passed away this morning. This is the second death of a resident at Hope Village this weekend. I ask that you immediately investigate the conditions at Hope Village, and I renew my urgent call that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) do an unannounced visit to the facility as soon as possible. Given these two deaths, a site visit is more urgent and appropriate than ever.
Next, I ask that you release as many individuals as possible from Hope Village, excluding, obviously, those for whose release would be inappropriate. Almost all the residents at Hope Village are transitioning home anyway, after having already served most of their sentences at a federal prison.
Hope Village is not a federal facility, but it houses BOP inmates through a federal contract, as well as D.C. Department of Corrections inmates through a D.C. contract. However, because it receives significant funding from BOP, I ask that you immediately investigate conditions at Hope Village. I also ask that you respond in writing within three days of the date of this letter, given the urgency of this matter.
Eleanor Holmes Norton”