« "Prosecutors Are Banding Together to Prevent Criminal-Justice Reform" | Main | Law enforcement group pressing Trump Administration to support criminal justice reform »

October 18, 2017

Reviewing how federal prisons deny rehabilitative programming to undocumented prisoners

Jacob Schuman, a federal public defender, has this new Marshall Project commentary examining federal Bureau of Prisons policies that deny access to rehabilitative programs to a certain notable prison population.  The piece provides a review of policies that are scattered in complicated program statements that can often escape scrutiny.  The piece is fully headlined "Federal Prisons Don’t Even Try to Rehabilitate the Undocumented: The Bureau of Prisons fails to provide basic resources to undocumented prisoners." Here is how it starts:

The federal Bureau of Prisons claims its mission is to “provide work and self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens.” When it comes to undocumented offenders, that’s a lie.

The truth is that the BOP discriminates against undocumented people by denying them access to essential drug counseling and job training in prison.

As President Trump threatens to lock up even more undocumented immigrants, it’s time for the BOP to reform these exclusionary policies, which are both ineffective and inhumane.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission reports that about one-third of all the people sent to federal prison each year are “illegal aliens.” In 2016, more than half of all federal criminal prosecutions involved immigration-related offenses.

Despite the BOP’s rehabilitative promises, the agency excludes these prisoners from its best addiction and vocational programs. The BOP officially bars any prisoner subject to an order of deportation from participating in its “most intensive,” nine-month Residential Drug Abuse Program, as well as from its compensated job-training program, Federal Prison Industries.The BOP similarly shuts out undocumented prisoners from its reentry-focused Release Preparation Program and even from its faith-based Life Connections Program.

The BOP strictly limits the access of undocumented prisoners to its other rehabilitative services. For example, some prisons offer occupational education programs intended to teach inmates marketable skills, but regulations specify that undocumented prisoners may only participate if resources permit after “meeting the needs of other eligible inmates.”

The BOP’s three-month Nonresidential Drug Abuse Program doesn’t officially exclude undocumented prisoners, but officials still sometimes prevent prisoners from participating if they’re subject to deportation.

The only remaining rehabilitative programs are a short drug abuse education course as well as a few literacy and English classes. (Unlike other incarcerated people, however, prisoners subject to deportation aren’t required to attend.)

Even the few programs theoretically open to undocumented people are, in practice, denied to many because the government primarily incarcerates them in for-profit facilities that aren’t required to offer rehabilitative services.

October 18, 2017 at 10:35 AM | Permalink


On the reform front, good to know judges are promoting voting rights for felons:


Posted by: Joe | Oct 18, 2017 11:44:28 AM

In a super-cynical way, it makes perfect sense. Every single one of them will be deported on release, so their rehabilitation is someone else's problem.

Posted by: Fat Bastard | Oct 18, 2017 6:46:41 PM

Hmmm---some person comes to the US illegally, commits a crime and then whines because he doesn't get rehabilitated like citizen criminals? Temerity.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 18, 2017 8:51:59 PM

Joe. Are those judges registered Democrats? Criminals will always vote for the Democratic Party. As a coincidence, perhaps, lawyers will nearly always vote for the Democratic party.

Posted by: David Behar | Oct 18, 2017 9:13:04 PM

A goal to “provide work and self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens" is beneficial to society. So, this burdens us all, not just those who might have came into this country when they were two or something.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 20, 2017 9:59:14 AM

Joe. I thought illegal aliens came here to do work. You do not need rehab, just to inform local landscapers of their availability.

Posted by: David Behar | Oct 20, 2017 2:11:52 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB