Published on: Sunday, January 17, 2021

All federal prisons in the United States have been placed on lockdown as the country braces for potential violence leading into Wednesday's swearing-in of President-elect Joe Biden (article available here). The lockdown went into effect at midnight Saturday, after inmates had been secured in their cells for the night. During a lockdown, inmates are kept in their cells most of the day and visiting is canceled.

A Bureau of Prisons statement released on Saturday does not specify the length of the lockdown but says the agency was securing all of its facilities as a precautionary measure brought on by "current events occurring around the country."

"In securing the facilities, the hope is that this prudent measure is for a short period and that operations will be restored to their prior status as soon as practical," the agency said. "We will continue to monitor events carefully and will adjust operations accordingly as the situation continues to evolve." The BOP acknowledged no specific information led to the lockdown nor was it in response to any ''significant" event occurring within a federal prison. The bureau is moving some of its Special Operations Response Teams to Washington, D.C., to help with security after President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, AP noted.

BOP imposed a lockdown last June following countrywide unrest after police killed George Floyd.

Before Saturday's announcement, federal inmates have been in a state of strict confinement since March 2020 under modified operations to contain the spread of COVID-19. Since then, most all visitation has been canceled and many inmate programs/activities suspended. More than 38,000 inmates and 3,500 staff in federal prisons have had COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and 190 inmates and three staff members have died of the disease.