Norton Gets Assurances of Improved Communication for D.C. Families from BOP Director and Learns that 48 D.C. Inmates at Beaumont, TX Facility Are Safe Following Hurricane Harvey
BOP to Set Up Dedicated Communication Line
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today spoke with Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Acting Director Thomas Kane after receiving complaints from constituents that families could not contact their loved ones housed at the BOP complex in Beaumont, TX following Hurricane Harvey. There are 48 District of Columbia inmates at the Beaumont facility. D.C. Code felons are the only local felons housed by BOP.
Norton told Acting Director Kane that she understood the limitation of resources in the middle of a flood, but was particularly concerned about complaints that D.C. residents could not contact their relatives to ensure their wellbeing. Director Kane thanked Norton for bringing this matter to him and said that he will work to achieve a dedicated phone line to facilitate improvements in communication, which will be posted on BOP’s website.
“I appreciated my conversation with Director Kane and his openness to my suggestion that communication had been key during the natural disaster,” Norton said. “Loss of the basics of life, such as running water and electric power, occurred throughout the flood area, but most residents were not uniquely incommunicado the way prisoners are. It appears that D.C. residents at Beaumont received some assistance unavailable to many other residents in the flood area, such as generator power and bottled water. My office will keep in touch with Beaumont in the coming days to make sure that vital communication between inmates and families is occurring and that recovery in the Beaumont complex is underway.”
The Beaumont prison is a complex comprised of four facilities (high security, medium security, low security, and minimum security). Director Kane told Norton there was minor water intrusion into some living areas, but the prison itself did not experience major flooding. Due to the city’s water going out, the prison switched to limited water access through its local tower. Water rationing was put in place, toilets were not flushed after every use and shower use was limited. However, inmates were given personal hygiene wipes.