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Lawmakers form prison reform caucus

Union County has seen a surge in coronavirus cases in the last two weeks. About half of those can be attributed to prisons.

UNION COUNTY, Pa. — Union County is home to two federal prisons: Allenwood and Lewisburg. U.S. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Representative Fred Keller has been vocal about his opposition to inmate transfers within the federal prison system. Keller and other members of Congress recently formed the bipartisan Bureau of Prisons Reform Caucus which calls for more oversight into the federal prison system.

"We have an organized group working together, both sides of the aisle, to bring about the transparency that is so much needed to make sure that the frontline workers, the corrections workers, will have their members come to Congress advocating and fighting together," said Rep. Fred Keller, (R) 12th District.

Rep. Keller joined state and local officials from Union County to explain the prison reform caucus.

"This will bring transparency to the Bureau of Prisons as a whole. Our goal is once we start shining a light on this, we'll be able to affect change in the leadership of the Bureau of Prisons and the way they conduct business," said Rep. Keller.

Shane Fausey is the national union president for the Council of Prison Locals. He says COVID-19 has strained resources at the Bureau of Prisons.

"We had to send staff across the country to fill in the staffing shortfalls that we had. We were sending employees from Union County to work in hot spots like New York City and then risking them coming back into our community with the virus," Fausey said.

Rep. Keller hopes the bipartisan effort will make both prisons and communities safer.

RELATED: Spike in COVID-19 in Union County