A 30-year-old woman serving 26-month imprisonment for maintaining a drug-affiliated business died of COVID-19 on Tuesday several weeks after giving birth to her child while she was on a ventilator, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons stated.
She was put on a ventilator and gave birth to her son the subsequent day by cesarean section. She tested positive for COVID-19 on April 4 and died on Tuesday.
The death of Andrea Circle Bear, the first female federal inmate to succumb to the respiratory illness, and the circumstances surrounding it will doubtless fuel more anger amongst criminal justice reform advocates and families of incarcerated kin who’ve criticized the Justice Division for a confusing launch of rules to release non-violent offenders into home confinement.
Attorney General William Barr in late March ordered the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to start working on releasing non-violent federal inmates into home confinement if they met certain standards, and later expanded the pool of people who could qualify after declaring the BOP was facing emergency conditions as a result of coronavirus pandemic.
Since then, the families of inmates have complained as the rules changed several times over who could qualify to be released home. In some cases, inmates had been moved into a 14-day quarantine required prior to launch, solely to find later they had been no longer eligible and transferred back to their cells.
At least 30 federal inmates have died since March of COVID-19, the illness brought on by the novel coronavirus, and 1,313 inmates have tested positive.