CHARLESTON — Delegate Terri Sypolt, R-Preston, and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, today said they strongly oppose the transfer of federal inmates to prisons in their districts and urge federal officials to reconsider that decision.
The Gilmer and Hazelton Federal Correctional Institutions, which are located within Speaker Hanshaw and Delegate Sypolt’s districts, were recently designated by the federal Bureau of Prisons as two of 10 federal prisons that would be used as quarantine sites for new federal inmates before they are placed in general population.
“West Virginia has done an incredible job containing the spread of this virus within our borders, and I can’t fathom why the federal government would jeopardize a state with such a low number of COVID-19 cases by bringing so many potential carriers to our area,” Speaker Hanshaw said.
“Our constituents who work in these prisons have done an excellent job protecting themselves, their families and the existing prison population from exposure to this disease, and I can’t believe our federal government would put them and their families at risk by bringing in so many people from outside our state,” Delegate Sypolt said.
Reports now indicate that at least one prisoner at the Gilmer facility is now infected with COVID-19, and officials worry about potential spread throughout the prison population and community.
“This is an absolutely absurd decision to move potentially infected people to an area that had little exposure to COVID-19, and now our residents are at risk of potential exposure due to this short-sighted decision by the Bureau of Prisons,” Speaker Hanshaw said. “We urge federal officials to reconsider this decision and help us protect our people from any additional exposure to this disease.”
“I’ve been so proud of the way people in our communities have come together to fight the spread of this disease,” Delegate Sypolt said. “Our government should be doing its part to prevent them from being exposed too. I’m deeply troubled and saddened by the Bureau of Prisons’ decision and hope they reverse it soon. I ask all delegates and senators to join with us in this call for action – as this is a matter that could affect our entire state – and urge Governor Justice to continue lobbying President Trump to change this policy.”