HEAT ALERT

Dangerous heat continues today in the Bronx for the first day of summer

Bill pushes feds to notify families of sick, dying inmates

The legislation — introduced by Sens. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and John Kennedy, R-La. — is the latest step by members of Congress to further oversight of the beleaguered federal prison system, which has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent years.

Associated Press

May 20, 2022, 12:52 PM

Updated 762 days ago

Share:

Bill pushes feds to notify families of sick, dying inmates
New legislation introduced in the Senate would require the Justice Department to establish guidelines for the federal Bureau of Prisons and state correctional systems to notify the families of incarcerated people if their loved one has a serious illness, a life-threatening injury or if they die behind bars.
The legislation — introduced by Sens. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and John Kennedy, R-La. — is the latest step by members of Congress to further oversight of the beleaguered federal prison system, which has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent years.
The bill’s introduction on Thursday comes more than two years after The Associated Press reported how the federal Bureau of Prisons had ignored its internal guidelines and failed to notify the families of inmates who were seriously ill with coronavirus as the virus raged through federal prisons across the U.S. And it comes on the heels of reports of similar conduct in state prisons in the U.S.
The bill, known as the Family Notification of Death, Injury, or Illness in Custody Act of 2022, is aimed at ensuring families receive timely notifications if their family members suffer from serious health complications.
In April 2020, the AP reported that officials at FCI Terminal Island, a federal prison in Los Angeles, had deviated from policy and chose not to call the family of 59-year-old Michael Fleming, who was hospitalized and put on a ventilator after being diagnosed with COVID-19. The only call his son received was on the day his father died, from a prison chaplain asking if the body should be cremated and where the ashes should be sent.
Fleming learned the cause of his father’s death from an AP reporter. The Bureau of Prisons’ policy required officials at the prison to “promptly” notify the family of inmates who have serious illnesses. The agency defended its decision at the time, saying it has “discretion when making notifications.”
“Not having the opportunity to say goodbye -- that would’ve been invaluable,” the younger Fleming said in an interview with the AP in 2020. “We will never have that chance.”
Similar instances were also reported in local jails and state prisons in Georgia, Ossoff’s office said. In one instance, a woman fell in the Clayton County Jail and suffered such serious injuries that she needed to be hospitalized. She died soon after. Her family only found out when the woman’s longtime boyfriend attempted to visit the jail and was told that she was no longer there. Another woman found out her father died in a Georgia state prison only after a letter was returned to her with a stamp on it that read: “Return to sender: inmate dead.”
“Too often, the families of those incarcerated never find out about a serious illness, a life-threatening injury, or even the death of a loved one behind bars. That’s why we introduced this bipartisan reform legislation,” Ossoff, a Democrat, said in a statement to the AP.
Kennedy, a Republican, said families “have the right to know about the well-being of their loved ones, and our bill would simply make sure that happens.”
Ossoff has pushed repeatedly for increasing transparency in the federal prison system and is among a growing group of lawmakers pushing to require the director of the Bureau of Prisons to be confirmed by the Senate.
The Georgia senator also launched a bipartisan working group of lawmakers to scrutinize conditions within the Bureau of Prisons following AP reporting that uncovered widespread corruption and abuse in federal prisons. The group was launched with Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana.


More from News 12
1:58
NYPD: Mother arrested for leaving two children in her car in University Heights

NYPD: Mother arrested for leaving two children in her car in University Heights

2:00
HEAT ALERT: Hazy heat sticks around through Friday in the Bronx; tracking weekend thunderstorms

HEAT ALERT: Hazy heat sticks around through Friday in the Bronx; tracking weekend thunderstorms

0:26
Building facade partially collapses along Bailey Avenue

Building facade partially collapses along Bailey Avenue

0:25
NYPD: Two people shot on Grand Concourse; teenager in critical condition

NYPD: Two people shot on Grand Concourse; teenager in critical condition

1:55
Pelham Parkway student receives $10,000 college scholarship at Manhattan College

Pelham Parkway student receives $10,000 college scholarship at Manhattan College

2:55
FDNY: Dunkin', other businesses affected by massive fire in Melrose

FDNY: Dunkin', other businesses affected by massive fire in Melrose

0:59
Mayor announces over $1 billion set aside to create new jobs for New Yorkers

Mayor announces over $1 billion set aside to create new jobs for New Yorkers

1:54
Feeling dehydrated? Water intake calculator can help you stay safe during hot weather

Feeling dehydrated? Water intake calculator can help you stay safe during hot weather

0:26
​​Thursday marks 6-year anniversary of death of 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz

​​Thursday marks 6-year anniversary of death of 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz

2:24
Health experts urge Bronx swimmers to stay safe before heading into the ocean to cool off

Health experts urge Bronx swimmers to stay safe before heading into the ocean to cool off

0:19
Police: 23-year-old shot in the arm in Fordham; 2 suspects wanted

Police: 23-year-old shot in the arm in Fordham; 2 suspects wanted

1:48
Cafeteria Serie 54 brings a piece of the Dominican Republic to the Bronx

Cafeteria Serie 54 brings a piece of the Dominican Republic to the Bronx

1:59
Fordham bodega worker shot, UBA calls on city to bring back stop-and-frisk

Fordham bodega worker shot, UBA calls on city to bring back stop-and-frisk

1:54
66-year-old man hospitalized after reports of drowning

66-year-old man hospitalized after reports of drowning

0:57
Table of Queens crowning ceremony in Bathgate

Table of Queens crowning ceremony in Bathgate

1:55
Juneteenth ceremony held at Van Cortlandt House Museum

Juneteenth ceremony held at Van Cortlandt House Museum

0:36
Bill proposed in City Council looks to extend NYC public pool season

Bill proposed in City Council looks to extend NYC public pool season

0:32
Gov. Hochul announces more than 100 illegal cannabis shops were shut down and padlocked

Gov. Hochul announces more than 100 illegal cannabis shops were shut down and padlocked

2:46
‘People have worked so hard.’ Woman who helped make Juneteenth a national holiday visits New Jersey

‘People have worked so hard.’ Woman who helped make Juneteenth a national holiday visits New Jersey

0:29
Police identify 16-year-old fatally shot in the head in Morrisania

Police identify 16-year-old fatally shot in the head in Morrisania