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More re: FCC Beaumont. What about Florida’s federal prisons?

The situation at FCC Beaumont has continued to draw media attention. Wednesday, BuzzFeed News published an article based on interviews with seven inmates’ relatives.

But while the high water in Beaumont was so destructive that it disabled the city’s water supply system, the federal prison located in the city did not evacuate, leaving inmates stuck in their cells as water rose as high as their ankles and the smell of sewage from backed-up toilets grew so putrid that some wrapped towels over their noses before going to sleep. Federal prison officials did not immediately respond to inquiries about the claims, which were consistent among the seven relatives — all women — of inmates who spoke to BuzzFeed News.[.…]

Four of the women who spoke to BuzzFeed News said that the inmates at the medium-security unit were given two 16-ounce bottles of water per day, along with two sandwiches (bologna or peanut butter and jelly). At the maximum-security unit, the daily water ration for each inmate was two eight-ounce bags, two women said.

Due to the shortage of clean water, inmates at both facilities were unable to flush toilets or take showers for days after the storm had passed. Without access to toilets, inmates instead began defecating in bags that guards had distributed.

Also on Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle published a story through which Bureau officials challenged many of the reported claims:

“There have not been any inmate fatalities as a result of Hurricane Harvey or otherwise at FCC (federal correctional complex) Beaumont,” the Federal Bureau of Prisons said. “Due to limited water in the city of Beaumont, the Federal Correctional Complex began using its own water reserves to operate the complex last Thursday, as noted on our public website. Inmates continue to receive bottled water and milk for drinking.”[…]

Portable toilets are accessible to inmates housed at the camp and low security facility and are emptied daily which has been sufficient,” the Federal Bureau of Prisons stated. “Inmates at the medium and United States Penitentiary (USP) facilities have access to functioning toilets in their cells. All inmates at the Complex have access to the Inmate Telephone System (ITS) and email capabilities via CorrLinks. There have not been any reports of complaints regarding rotten food.”

The Federal Bureau of Prisons denied The Houston Chronicle’s request to visit the prison.

As Beaumont’s recovery from Harvey continues to draw attention, the question becomes: What about Hurricane Irma? According to the Bureau’s Web site, MDC Guaynabo was not evacuated yesterday when the storm struck Puerto Rico, and Newsweek reports that there is no intention to evacuate Guantanamo Bay (a federal but not, BOP facility). There are multiple reports that the Florida Department of Corrections is evacuating prisoners from facilities in the southern and central parts of the state. However, as of this writing, while the Bureau has announced indefinite suspension of visitation at Florida facilities, there is no known report of evacuation efforts, in particular, of the FDC, FCI and FPC in Miami or of the Coleman FCC near Orlando, which includes two USPs, two FCIs and a camp.

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