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September 6, 2022

Formerly incarcerated and advocacy groups write to new head of federal BOP

This webpage at the Sentencing Project has the full text of this letter from formerly incarcerated individuals and advocacy organizations to new Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Colette Peters advocating for various reforms.  The full letter is worth a full read, and here are a few excerpts:

As people formerly incarcerated in US Bureau of Prisons facilities and organizations dedicated to civil rights and justice, we know well the challenges that await you and hope to share with you our concerns and advice for advancing the systemic reform you have pledged to achieve.  We have all witnessed the Bureau’s failure to provide adequate medical care, safe conditions, and rehabilitative programs.  We ask you to bring the Bureau into compliance with federal law and to lead the Bureau toward a more humane future grounded in transparency and accountability....

Federal prisons are plagued by inadequate medical care, overcrowding, staff shortages, unsanitary conditions, violence, and abuse.  These conditions are well-documented in media coverage, Office of Inspector General and Bureau reports, and congressional testimony.  Following a recent oversight hearing on July 26, Senator Ossoff observed within FCI Atlanta that “conditions for inmates were abusive and inhumane” and that “stunning failures of federal prison administration” “likely contributed to the loss of life.”5) FCI Atlanta is not unique; all federal prisons urgently need reform....

Compassionate release can save the lives of medically vulnerable people, ease staff shortages by reducing the prison population, and provide mercy.  Yet the Bureau rarely uses its power to file motions for compassionate release in extraordinary or compelling circumstances.... [O]ver the first 13 months of the pandemic, the Bureau only ultimately approved 36 compassionate release requests, fewer than in 2019.  You have the power to change that.  We urge you to normalize the use of compassionate release to save lives, reunite families, and make federal prisons safer....

In 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act, a vital piece of legislation that gave many people hope.  Congress recognized that people grow and change, and that it was in the interest of the American people and public safety to allow individuals to earn the ability to come home sooner by completing rehabilitative programs.  But today, almost five years later, the Bureau has still failed to fully implement the First Step Act....

Abuse, corruption, and misconduct have been apparent within the Bureau for decades, but leadership has too often failed to act. In 2019, the House Subcommittee on National Security found that misconduct in the federal prison system is widespread and routinely covered up or ignored, including by senior officials.  The recent oversight hearing on FCI Atlanta highlighted decades of corruption and abuse and inaction by the Bureau Director.  We urge you to set a new standard and lead the Bureau towards transparency and accountability.

September 6, 2022 at 01:50 PM | Permalink

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