ACLU sues federal prison in Waseca, Minn. after 67% of inmates test positive for COVID-19

A lawsuit alleges the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca, Minnesota failed to protect its vulnerable inmates from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Filed by the ACLU, the lawsuit against Warden M. Starr and Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal says the federal prison system has “failed to respond in any meaningful way to the pandemic.”

The ACLU says the prison did not release medically vulnerable people from the prison, which makes social distancing impossible.

Federal Bureau of Prisons data shows 440 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 out of 658 total inmates as of Thursday. That is about 67 percent of the prison’s population.

The ACLU called for transfer of the most medically vulnerable individuals to home confinement, implementation of social distancing and hygiene measures in the prison and more medical care for COVID-19 patients.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons said it does not comment on pending legal action.

The Bureau’s data shows two active COVID-19 cases in the Waseca prison inmate population and four among staff. 438 inmates and 16 staff have recovered from the virus to date.

The prison system says, nationwide, 8,025 inmates are on home confinement due to the pandemic. The total number of home confinement inmates, including those who have completed their sentences, is 18,658.