Michael Fleming did not know his father was diagnosed with coronavirus and dying on a ventilator at a federal prison where he was serving for the drug charge. His father Michael was held in Los Angeles at FCI Terminal Island and died on April 19. It is the largest known hotspot of coronavirus in the federal prison system where half of the population has been tested positive.
Michael's family first got to know about his illness was after he died, through a prison chaplain who asked where the ashes should be sent if the body is to be cremated. In an interview with Associated Press, Fleming told that the actual cause of death of his father was known to his family from the news.
Advocates and lawmakers are now made to think that if the safety of nearly 150,000 inmates is insured who are serving time in federal facilities. Bureau of Prison provided figures that out of 2,700 tests throughout the system, around 2,000 tests have come out positive. This suggests that a lot more COVID-19 cases are left uncovered. Still, officials state that the rate of deaths and infected cases inside the facility is lower than outside figures.
Prison policy states to promptly notify the family of seriously ill inmate
The 59-year-old Michael was serving a 20-year sentence on a drug conspiracy charge. His family was never informed by the Bureau of Prisons that he was admitted to the hospital and his health had been declining. "Not having the opportunity to say goodbye -- that would've been invaluable," younger Fleming said.
According to the Bureau of Prisons policy, the agency is supposed to immediately notify the family of the inmate who is seriously ill. But the spokeswoman of the agency confirmed, the family that was not initially notified, has "discretion when making notifications".
Kathy Hawk Sawyer, senior adviser at the Bureau of Prisons said they are doing right things to keep the inmates safe but they cannot assure Americans that everyone is going to be safe and secure during the pandemic. Total of 31 inmates including Michael Fleming has died of coronavirus at federal correction facility as of Wednesday.
What does CDC say?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has suggested correctional facilities to identify other possible home confinement for isolated inmates. CDC also proposed to set up tents to increase bed space as part of a plan to curb the spread of the virus.
Dr Jeffrey Allen, bureau's medical director, informed that the Justice Department ordered 20 separate ventilators for the use of federal prisoners. Bureau of Prisons also received more than 5,000 test kits and 20 rapid testing machines recently that will be allocated at hot spot prisons to increase the testing numbers.