NEW ORLEANS – The ACLU and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana today filed
a request for a temporary restraining order in their lawsuit against Oakdale Federal Detention
Despite the government’s directive to reduce the population in the Bureau of Prisons-run prison,
Oakdale has identified just one person for release and another person has died since a court
hearing on Tuesday. According to the government’s disclosure, BOP plans to only review —
much less release — fewer than 100 additional prisoners for release due to COVID-19.
Alanah Odoms Hebert, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana stated: “The Bureau of
Prisons has a fundamental obligation to protect the health and well-being of the people in its
custody, and right now it is failing abysmally. Their woefully inadequate response is putting
people’s lives and public health at risk. Stronger action must be taken now to avert a
humanitarian and public health catastrophe before it’s too late.”
Somil Trivedi, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, stated: “The
Bureau of Prisons’ plan to review less than 100 of the men currently incarcerated at Oakdale is
dangerous and immoral. Men are sleeping three, four, five to a cell, less than six feet away, and
many are reporting that cellmates are coughing through the night. Men, including our clients,
have reported being in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases. A slow-moving, minimal
review based on flawed criteria will do nothing to fix all of this.
“The only constitutional and medically sound approach involves expedited, responsible release
of all medically-vulnerable prisoners to home confinement or other places where they can
socially distance, plus appointing a public health expert to oversee internal measures to guarantee
that remaining prisoners can socially distance in a clean, safe environment. This so-called plan
does none of that — the consequence will be human life."