New bill would require federal prisons to notify families of sick or dying inmates

A new bill introduced in the United States Senate last week would crack down on federal prisons, pushing them to promptly notify the families of inmates who are ill or dying while incarcerated.

The bill, written by Senators Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and John Kennedy (R-LA), would require the US Justice Department to create guidelines for the entire federal prison system, including state prisons, to notify the families of inmates if their incarcerated family member is seriously ill, injured, or dies while in prison.

The bill, known as the Family Notification of Death, Injury, or Illness in Custody Act of 2022, comes after a series of reports by the Associated Press that revealed families were not notified of incarcerated individuals who were ill or had died from COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic.

Ossoff’s office says it also knows of instances unrelated to the virus in which inmates had been transferred to a hospital or even passed away and their families had not been notified until afterwards, or in some cases, not at all. Ossoff’s office specifically pointed to an instance in which a man found out his father had passed away in prison only when he received a phone call asking what to do with the remains.

“Too often, the families of those incarcerated never find out about a serious illness, a life-threatening injury, or even the death of a loved one behind bars. That’s why we introduced this bipartisan reform legislation,” Ossoff said to the Associated Press.

The bill follows the resignation of the Chief of the US Bureau of Prisons over his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, and after AP reporting revealed deep seeded corruption in the prison system.




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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