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May 4, 2023

DOJ's Inspector General reports on "aging and deteriorating" federal prison facilities

As detailed in this official press release, "Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz [has] announced ... the release of a report evaluating the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) efforts to maintain and construct correctional institutions. The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) also launched a web page with photos and videos documenting the condition of prison cells, cell blocks, and kitchen, dining, and other areas at five BOP institutions (FCI Terminal Island, USP Atlanta, FTC Oklahoma City, CI Taft, and MCC New York)."  Here is more:

As described in today’s report, the BOP’s institutions are aging and deteriorating: all 123 of the BOP’s institutions require maintenance, with a large and growing list of unfunded modernization and repair needs, and three of these institutions are in such critical stages of disrepair that they are fully or partially closed.  The DOJ OIG found that the BOP’s efforts to address these issues were negatively impacted by two major factors: a mismatch between available and needed funding, and the absence of a well-defined infrastructure strategy.

As of May 2022, the BOP’s estimated cost for needed, major repairs was approaching $2 billion. However, our audit found that the BOP’s budget requests have been far below its own estimates of resource needs: for example, BOP sought less than $200 million for its infrastructure needs from Congress in FY 2022, and Congress appropriated $59 million.  Consequently, the resources available to address BOP’s maintenance needs are limited, and in many cases, necessary repairs cannot be completed in a timely manner due to a lack of funding.  This results in increasingly costly maintenance and, in the most extreme circumstances, having to shutter institutions and relocate inmates due to unsafe conditions.

At the same time, we found that Congress has set aside over $1 billion for the BOP to construct two new institutions, but these funds remain largely unspent, the projects have been in the planning stages for over a decade, and the BOP’s requests each year that Congress cancel one of these projects and rescind the funds — made at the direction of the Department of Justice and the Office of Management and Budget — have not been acted on.

May 4, 2023 at 05:38 AM | Permalink



If only our press would ask hard questions of the Administration along these lines

Posted by: federalist | May 4, 2023 10:22:31 AM

If you build it they will come!!!

Posted by: beth curtis | May 4, 2023 12:25:28 PM

It is unfortunate that both sides of the crime and incarceration debate fail to recognize the amazing ongoing decline in juvenile and young adult incarceration rates.
From 2001-2021, male incarceration rates fell 88% for men ages 18-19, 70% for ages 20-24, 52% for ages 25-29, 38% for ages 30-24, and 22% for ages 35-39. See https://ricknevin.com/update-continuing-trend-toward-zero-youth-incarceration/
Our aging prisons are going to empty out because arrest rates have collapsed for juveniles and young adults. See: https://ricknevin.com/the-new-usual-suspects-adults-ages-25-and-older/

Posted by: Rick Nevin | May 4, 2023 8:46:42 PM


Arrest rates have gone down because we no longer arrest people for the same crimes they were getting arrested for five years ago.

Posted by: TarlaQtr | May 4, 2023 11:52:56 PM

Well, the press release was about facilities in the Federal system - BOP. At the end of the Trump administration, Jan. 21, 2021. The number of people incarcerated in the BOP has increased by about 8,000.

Posted by: beth curtis | May 5, 2023 11:09:04 AM

Sorry - Since the end of the Trump administration the number of people incarcerated in the BOP has increased by about 8,000.

Posted by: beth curtis | May 5, 2023 11:18:04 AM

During the period 2005 to 2012, (or so) the BOP peaked out at nearly 230,000 inmates. As of May 4, 2023, the BOP's inmate population is 156,900 (or so). During those over capacity years, there wee not enough "Design Capacity" beds in the whole BOP to house all of the inmates. Penitentiary Wardens and their staffs had to keep at least 150 people at a time locked up in the SHU (Special Housing Unit, THE HOLE!) because there were not enough beds on the compound to house all of the residents designated to each prison. Medical treatment was poor, especially for diabetic inmates and inmates with HIV-AIDS and Type-C Hepatitis. The BOP refused to pay for Alpha Interferon treatment for Type-C Hepatitis, until an inmate won a Federal Court lawsuit, holding that their failure to pay for Alpha - Interferon treatment violated the 8th Amendment and amounted to cruel and unusual treatment. I once saw the BOP refuse to pay for surgery to remove a testicle of an inmate who had testicular cancer, which spreads rapidly. They found his Administrative Remedies on paper for 5 months, until he was released, just so they wouldn't have to pay for the treatment. About 2006 or 2007, the two oldest penitentiaries in thee BOP (Leavenworth and Atlanta) were replaced by the two penitentiaries (just 200 yards apart) in Coleman, Florida. The two old pens were downgraded to FCIs. Few people today appreciate that the largest concentration of Federal prison inmates in America is in the 7 prisons located in the Coleman, Florida complex.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | May 8, 2023 1:40:04 PM

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