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Overview:

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is an agency within the Department of Justice responsible for administration of the federal prison system. BOP is headquartered in Washington D.C., and currently includes 117 prisons, 6 regional offices, 2 staff training centers, and 22 community corrections offices. The agency is responsible for the custody and care of nearly 219,000 federal inmates (projected FY 2013 total)—about 80% of whom are incarcerated in government facilities, with the remaining in private prisons and other local facilities. The Bureau is also responsible for carrying out all legally mandated federal executions, and maintains a lethal injections center in Terre Haute, Indiana—where in 2001, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was the first federal prisoner to be executed in almost 40 years. In addition to its use of capital punishment, the BOP has been subject to criticism over budget and program cuts, privatization, and agency contracting practices.

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History:

Located within the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) was established in 1930 with a mandate to manage and regulate “all federal penal correctional institutions.” At the time of its founding, the agency’s reach included 11 federal prisons. By the end of 1930, the bureau operated 14 facilities for just over 13,000 inmates—an operation that grew to 24 facilities and 24,360 inmates by 1940.

 

However, notwithstanding minor changes, the inmate population remained relatively stable through 1980, when the population stood at 24,252. As the operational structure transitioned over time—from large facilities of mixed security levels, to smaller facilities confining inmates of similar security needs—the number of facilities almost doubled.

 

According to the Bureau, federal law enforcement efforts and new legislation in the 1980s dramatically altered sentencing and caused a spike in federal inmate numbers: “The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 established determinate sentencing, abolished parole, and reduced good time; additionally, several mandatory minimum sentencing provisions were enacted in 1986, 1988, and 1990. From 1980 to 1989, the inmate population more than doubled, from just over 24,000 to almost 58,000. During the 1990s, the population more than doubled again, reaching approximately 136,000 at the end of 1999 as efforts to combat illegal drugs and illegal immigration contributed to significantly increased conviction rates.”

 

Staffing levels grew concurrently with inmate numbers, from about 10,000 bureau employees in 1980 to just over 19,000 in 1990. Projected levels for 2013 were about 42,000.

 

A Brief History of the Bureau of Prisons

National Archives Guide to Federal Records of the Bureau of Prisons“Fallen Heroes” or BOP workers who have been killed by inmates since 1901

Brief History of Alcatraz

 

Capital Punishment

In addition to state capital punishment laws, the federal government also uses the death penalty for certain federal offenses. Since its introduction in 1790, 336 men and four women have been executed. In the 20th century, 16% of federal executions were minority defendants. (See Race and the Federal Death Penalty.) There were 37 federal executions between 1927 and 2003. In 1972 the Supreme Court ruled that all state death penalty statutes were unconstitutional because they allowed for “arbitrary and capricious application”—a ruling that similarly affected the federal statute. Between 1963 and the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1988, there were no federal executions.

Bureau’s List of Executions of Federal Prisoners (since 1927)

Federal Executions

Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project

Federal Death Row and Description of Cases
Results in Federal Capital Prosecutions and Background on Federal Death Penalty
Federal Capital Offenses

Federal Executions Since 1927

Responses to Terrorism (including Military Tribunals and the case of Zacarias Moussaoui)

 

The Federal Death Penalty System: A Statistical Survey (1988-2000)

President Bill Clinton commissioned a study from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to examine its decision-making process for seeking the death penalty in individual cases—and to collect statistical information on racial, ethnic, and geographic distribution of defendants and their victims.

 

Released in 2000, the study found dramatic racial and geographic disparities, revealing that 80% of the cases submitted for death penalty review in the previous five-year period were for (racial) minority defendants—African-Americans were defendants in more than half of the cases. The report also found that 40% of 682 cases sent to the DOJ for approval were filed by only five jurisdictions.

Source: dealthpenaltyinfo.org

 

Racial Disparities in Federal Death Penalty Prosecutions: 1988-1994, prepared by the Death Penalty Information Center at the request of the Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights.

Source: The Federal Death Penalty

 

ACLU Capital Punishment Project

ACLU Letter to House Judiciary Committee Voicing Opposition to H.R. 3060, Terrorist Death Penalty Enhancement Act of 2005 (ACLU web site)

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What it Does:

From the BOP Web Site:

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) consists of 119 prisons, six regional offices, a headquarters, two staff training centers, and 22 residential reentry management offices (formerly known as community corrections offices). The regional offices and the headquarters are responsible for overseeing and providing support to the prisons and residential reentry management offices. The latter then oversees residential reentry centers and home confinement programs. The BOP is also responsible for the care and custody of nearly 219,000 federal inmates; 79% of these inmates are currently staying in correctional facilities or detention centers. The remaining 21% are staying in private prisons, community facilities or local jails.

Prison Types/General Information

 

Organization

Central Office
Office Complexes
Prison Facilities
Regional Offices

Staff Training Centers

 

Population and Demographics [as of July 2013]

Total population: 218,952

Total sentenced population: 205,117

Inmates in BOP facilities: 176,423

Inmates in privately managed secure facilities: 29,427

Inmates in other contract facilities: 13,102

Statistics at a glance:

  • 93.3% of inmates are male
  • One out of four inmates are not U.S. citizens; the majority of these are citizens of Mexico
  • The average inmate age is 39 years old
  • 71.4% of inmates are serving a sentence of five years or more
  • 46.8% of inmates are serving time for a drug offense whereas 83 inmates (0.0%) are serving time for national security
  • 11.2% of inmates are held in high security prisons
  • 57 inmates are under sentence of death

Inmate Breakdown

Sentence Imposed
Types of Offenses

Staff Breakdown

 

Inmate Matters and Program Links

Designations

Education

Employing Ex-Offenders

Female Offenders

Inmate Money

Inmate Skills

Juveniles

Personal Property

Release Preparation

Sentence Computations

Substance Abuse Treatment

Temporary Release

UNICOR

Victim/Witness Notification Program

Visiting, Telephone, E-mail & Correspondence

Work Programs

 

From the Web Site of the Federal Bureau of Prisons

Careers

Contact Information

Doing Business with BOP

Fallen Heroes

Federal Executions

Federal Prison Facilities

Inmate Locator

Inmate Matters

News and Information

Organizational Chart

Policy and Forms

Population Report

Publications

Quick Facts

Research and Reports

Strategic Planning

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Where Does the Money Go:

The Bureau of Prisons spent more than $340.5 million on contractor services between 2004 and 2013, according to USAspending.gov. The top four kinds of products and services it purchased were miscellaneous professional services ($130,395,594), office furniture ($77,614,100), social rehabilitation ($77,034,223), and fences and gates ($14,455,118).

 

The top five recipients of this contractor spending during that period were:

 

1.         Domus Holdings Corp.                                   $101,700,327 

2.         Government of the United States                     $84,895,315 

3.         Corrections Corporation of America                $69,747,316 

4.         Prudential Financial Inc.                                   $27,402,214 

5.         SIGCOM-GDI Fencing Solutions LLC           $14,455,118

 

Stakeholders: Department of Justice, BOP, and other correctional agencies; Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (FPI, also known as UNICOR); Corrections Corporation of America (CCA, the largest U.S. private prison operator) and the GEO Group; subcontractors for private and government management and builders; prison employees and unions; prisoners and their families; communities where prisons are located.

Federal Prison Industries

Prison Activist Resource Center – fights institutionalized racism in the prison system

American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO – includes BOP organizing

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Controversies:

Federal Prison Industry “Mandatory Source” Clause Draws Controversy

Officials with the Federal Prison Industries (FPI), which sells office furniture, clothing, and other products to U.S. government agencies, warned in 2008 that its operations expected to lose millions of dollars in sales because of a proposed new law.

 

The FPI had long been a mandatory source for federal purchases. But the Defense Authorization Act of 2008 required the Pentagon to consider bids from other sources.

 

The mandate affected goods and services of which the Defense Department purchased more than 5% from FPI—if the prison industry didn’t offer the best quality, price, and delivery time.

 

The new rule was likely to result in FPI losing at least $144 million in sales and 3,250 inmate jobs, then-Bureau of Prisons (BOP) director Harley Lappin, told the House Judiciary Committee. BOP corrections officers estimated that the losses would be about twice as high.

 

Similar bills introduced in 2012 died in committee. In May 2013, another bill was introduced, and promptly referred to committee, which would give the FPI a five-year period to adjust to the idea of actually competing with industries on a level playing field, and instead offer prisoners real opportunities to learn vocational skills or work in support of nonprofits or other public service agencies. That bill is estimated to have a 1 in 20 chance of passing. Meantime, the FPI beat out a Tennessee company that made clothing for the military; that company, Tennier, ended up losing a $45 million contract and laying off 100 workers.

Federal prison industries program expects to lose millions in sales (by Elise Castelli, Federal Times)

Competing with prison labor (by Diane Cardwell, New York Times)

H.R. 2098: Federal Prison Industries Competition in Contracting Act of 2013 (GovTrack.us)

Federal Prison Industries (Wikipedia)

 

Prison Industry Brings Claims of Slave Labor

Critics of the U.S. prison labor industry have accused it of exploiting prisoners and operating as legalized slave labor.

 

As of 2013, there were approximately two million inmates locked away in U.S. prisons at the state and federal level. Many of these prisons were operated by private contractors trying to turn incarceration into a for-profit enterprise. Correctional facilities operated by states and the federal government were faulted for putting prisoners to work for low wages, making as little as 25 cents an hour.

 

The accusations of turning inmates into slave labor were even more acute when it was pointed out that the majority of these individuals were minorities, primarily black and Hispanic.

 

More than three-dozen states were reportedly using prison labor to help corporations produce their products. The list included such companies as IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Texas Instruments, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nordstrom, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more.

The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery? (by Vicky Pelaez, El Diario-La Prensa, New York and Global Research)

The Myth of Prison Slave Labor Camps in the U.S. (by James Kilgore, Counterpunch)

Big Business Or Slave Labor? What Prisoners Make In Jail (NewsOne)

 

BOP Director Arrested, Takes New Job with Corrections Corporation

Harley Lappin, director of the BOP, was arrested in February 2011 for driving under the influence. But the embarrassment did nothing to harm Lappin’s chance to accept a lucrative executive position with the nation’s leading private-prison operator.

 

Shortly after his drunk driving arrest, Lappin announced his plans to retire from the BOP after eight years as its leader, but declared that the incident had nothing to do with his decision to resign. Within a month of leaving the BOP, he became the chief correctional officer of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

 

Critics of the move pointed out that while he ran the BOP, Lappin awarded CCA multiple government contracts totaling more than a hundred million dollars.

 

For example, Lappin approved a 2005 deal with CCA worth $129 million to manage a low-security federal facility in Youngstown, Ohio.

 

In his new post, he sent out a letter inviting states to sell their prisons to CCA and noted that such a move could help them relieve the strains on their tight corrections budgets.

Former Bureau of Prisons Director Comes Out of Retirement for Private Prison (by Walter Pavlo, Forbes)

Harley Lappin, 99% Lock In Guarantee, CCA & DUI (War on Error, Daily Kos)

Soon-to-be retired federal prisons director charged with DUI in Arundel (by Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post)

Outgoing Bureau of Prisons director Harley Lappin arrested for drunk driving (by Mike Riggs, Daily Caller)

More on Privatization and Money

More Prison Inmates Could Mean More Money for Towns (Associate Press)

Up for sale: prisons and prisoners (by Janet Sutherland, Freedom Socialist)

 

Obama Tries to Move Guantánamo Prisoners to Illinois

As one of his very first acts after taking office, President Barack Obama moved to shut down the prison at Guantánamo Bay and move its detainees to prisons in the United States.

 

But Obama’s plan ran into serious opposition in Congress, which must approve any transfer of detainees because federal law currently bans such suspects from being housed on American soil.

 

Even a modest move consisting of transferring a “limited number” of terrorism suspects to an underutilized state-of-the-art detention facility in Illinois went nowhere.

 

Obama, who served in the U.S. Senate from Illinois, gained the support of ranking politicians, such as Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn, both Democrats, for his proposal for the BOP to buy and use the Thomson Correctional Center, a state prison in northwestern Illinois. Democrats said the housing of some of the Guantánamo detainees at the largely empty, maximum-security prison would create 1,100 new jobs for the local economy, which was struggling during the Great Recession.

 

Although Democrats controlled both houses of Congress at the time, Republicans were so vociferous in their opposition to bring detainees to Thomson or other federal penitentiaries that Obama was unable to get the necessary votes on Capitol Hill for his plan. The Thomson facility closed on April 30, 2010, but a deal to buy it and turn it into a maximum-security federal prison for U.S. convicts went through late in 2012. The 2014 Justice Department budget proposal included funds to fully activate Thomson by 2015 in order to alleviate prison overcrowding.

Lawmakers say progress made on Thomson prison (by Chuck Sweeny, Rockford Register Star)

Obama Tells Prison to Take Detainees (by Helena Cooper and David Johnston, New York Times)

Lawmakers Spar Over Decision to Transfer Gitmo Detainees to Illinois Prison (Fox News)

No Bids at Thomson Prison Auction (by Monique Garcia, Chicago Tribune)

U.S. Planning To Go Ahead with Plan To Buy Illinois Prison (by Christi Parsons, Chicago Tribune)

Civil Liberties Groups Join GOP in Opposition to Obama Version of Closing Guantánamo (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

4 U.S. Cities Compete to House Guantánamo Prisoners (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

 

Bush’s Budget and Private Contracts

President George W. Bush’s 2005 budget put a moratorium on the BOP’s construction of new prisons—instead providing funding for 4,500 additional “contract beds” in an attempt to bring the contract market up to speed with a burgeoning prison population.

 

Per the budget: “BOP’s total prison population increased by 10% between 2002 and 2003 but its contract population remained largely static. The 2005 request was intended to help reverse this trend. The 2005 budget placed a moratorium on new prison construction while promoting more aggressive BOP contracting with state, local and private sector providers.”

 

Privatization of Criminal Justice

Since the 1980s, expanding prison populations and fiscal constraints have led to increased privatization of the federal prison system, with DOJ agencies including BOP relying on state, local and private prisons to house federal inmates. The government has come under criticism for its contracting practices, which increased the risk of default among private service providers typically contracted for management and construction—thereby increasing security risks.

 

In a 2000/2001 report, the Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the state and local providers consistently overcharged the government, criticized the BOP for relying too heavily on a few private contractors, and pointed to an unstable procurement practice. In response, Congress passed legislation authorizing the DOJ to procure private prison services through “nontraditional” or “innovative” agreements—meaning more flexible terms. Under the law, agencies are allowed to procure services independently of traditional government contracting rules.

 Crime pays for US prison companies (Agence France-Presse) 

Reforming prison contracting: An examination of federal private prison contracts (by Joseph Summerill, Corrections Today)

The Department of Justice's Reliance on Private Contractors for Prison Services (Report No. 01-16, Report from the National Institute of Justice)

Going Backwards: Federal Government Saves Private Prisons As State Convict Population Levels Off  (by Joseph T. Hallinan, Wall Street Journal)

Quality of Prison Operations in the U.S. Federal Sector: A Comparison with a Private Prison  (by Scott D. Camp, Gerald G. Gaes, and William G. Saylor, Office of Research and Evaluation,

Federal Bureau of Prisons) (pdf)

Statutory Authority to Contract With the Private Sector for Secure Facilities (Memorandum Opinion BOP)

Cost, Performance Studies Look at Prison Privatization (by Gerry Gaes, Ph.D., DOJ)

Cafeteria Funds Private Prisons, activist says (by Ariel Troster, Link)

 

Shock Incarceration Program Cut

The BOP abruptly announced that it would shutter the Intensive Confinement Center (ICC) program—without even consulting judges or lawyers about the usefulness of the “boot camp” program that was designed to rehabilitate first-time, nonviolent offenders. The announcement came in a January 5, 2005, memo by then-Prison Bureau Director Harley G. Lappin that also revealed cuts in counseling and rehabilitation programs as cost-reduction initiatives.

 

The ICC program was operated within BOP facilities in Bryan, Texas; Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; and Lompoc, California. In calling for putting an end to them, the BOP would save approximately $1.2 million, and noted that “shock incarceration” didn’t reduce the recidivism rate anyway, compared to inmates who served their time in traditional institutions. Not only that, according to the BOP, operating the boot camps and housing the inmates cost more than ordinary minimum-security camps. 

 

Opponents of closing the program, including Assistant Federal Defender Timothy Hoover, noted that the BOP didn’t produce any studies to back up its claim that the boot camps didn’t reduce recidivism. In addition, inmates tended to spend less time in custody when they were in the camps at an obvious cost saving compared to traditional prisoners.

Alternative Incarceration Program Discontinued (Daily Record)

Intensive Confinement Center Program (Federal Register)

 

Ban on Religious Books

The BOP created an uproar in 2007 when officials tried to ban a large number of religious books from prison libraries.

 

The removal of the books was part of a long-delayed directive adopted after 9/11 that was intended to prevent radical religious texts, specifically Islamic ones, from falling into the hands of violent inmates.

 

The move provoked a lawsuit by three inmates at the federal prison camp in Otisville, New York, who claimed the ban violated their constitutional rights.

 

The BOP then reversed its decision and put the books back on prison library shelves.

 

However, later that same year, after a comprehensive examination of prison chapel libraries, BOP officials were considering a similar policy that would result in some books being removed.

 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for the BOP not to renew the policy, saying it violated the rights of prisoners.

 

“We acknowledge the legitimate need to regulate prisoner access to texts that advocate violence, but a policy that places an arbitrary numerical cap on the religious books and documents available to incarcerated persons infringes on their right to freedom of religious worship, observance and practice, and violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” David C. Fathi at HRW wrote in a letter to the agency.

Human Rights Watch Urges Federal Bureau of Prisons Not to Re-Institute Broad Ban of Religious Books (David Fathi, Human Rights Watch)

Inmates File Suit After Prisons Ban Some Religious Books Over Terrorism Fears (Associated Press)

 

Timothy McVeigh—Oklahoma City Bomber—First Federal Inmate Executed since 1963

In June 2011, the federal government executed its first prisoner in 38 years: Timothy McVeigh.

 

The convicted bomber of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, McVeigh died by lethal injection on June 10.

 

It was the first federal execution since 1963. The use of the death penalty for the first time in decades brought out about 75 protesters who held a vigil outside the site, the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

 

McVeigh reportedly did not make a verbal statement before he was executed. But in a handwritten statement, McVeigh quoted a section of William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus,” which reads in part: “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”

 

The April 19, 1995, attack in Oklahoma City killed 168 people and wounded hundreds more.

 Timothy McVeigh dead (CNN)

A glance, a nod, silence and death (by Julian Borger, Guardian)

Timothy James McVeigh (ClarkProsecutor.org)

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Suggested Reforms:

Prison Overcrowding

With automatic budget cuts looming, Attorney General Eric Holder warned members of Congress in early 2013 that the sequestration could increase security risks inside the overcrowded federal prison system.

 

Holder told Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) could not afford a 5% reduction in revenue as a result of sequestration.

 

The attorney general wrote in a letter to Mikulski: “[The cuts] would endanger the safety of staff and over 218,000 inmates. As a consequence, BOP would need to implement full or partial lockdowns and significantly reduce inmate reentry and training programs. This would leave inmates idle, increasing the likelihood of inmate misconduct, violence, and other risks to correctional workers and inmates.”

 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) used Holder’s warning as an opportunity to call for sentencing reforms in an effort to reduce the number of people behind bars.

 

Charles Samuels, director of the BOP, echoed the ACLU’s recommendation, telling Congress that the increase in the prison population was due to harsh sentencing and increasing prosecutions of drug offenses. Samuels said that “drug offenders comprise the largest single offender group admitted to federal prison, and sentences for drug offenses are much longer than those for most other offense categories.”

Sequestration Puts Spotlight on America’s Dangerously Overcrowded Federal Prisons (by Jesselyn McCurdy, American Civil Liberties Union)

DOJ Must Take Lead on Prison Overcrowding (by Mary Price, Main Justice)

Overcrowding In Federal Prisons Harms Inmates, Guards: GAO Report (by Michael McLaughlin, Huffington Post)

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Debate:

Should the prison system be privatized?

The idea of privatizing prisons in the U.S. goes back to the 19th century. Following the Civil War, some Southern states employed the Convict Lease System, which involved the leasing out of prisoners to serve as laborers for railroads, mining companies, plantations, and logging operations. But this system was troubled with corruption and other problems, including frequent escapes by inmates and mistreatment of prisoners that ultimately resulted in the system losing business and disappearing altogether.

 

For most of the 20th century, governments gave little if any thought to using private companies to house convicted criminals. But with changes in sentencing laws during the 1970s and 1980s came a surge in prison populations. Public correctional systems soon grew so overcrowded due to the increase that lawmakers began looking for answers.

 

Along came Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a Tennessee-based company that sought to exploit the growing problem of prison populations by offering to take many inmates off the hands of state agencies. Other companies soon jumped into the business, which launched a debate that began in the 1990s and continued into the 21st century over whether it was a good idea for state and local governments, as well as the federal Bureau of Prisons, to contract out prison operations.

Cost of Prisons: Bureau of Prisons Needs Better Data to Assess Alternatives for Acquiring Low and Minimum Security Facilities (GAO) (pdf)

Private and Public Prisons - Studies Comparing Operational Costs and/or Quality of Service GAO GGD-96-158 (GAO) (pdf)

Prison Privatization: Past and Present (by Matthew Zito, International Foundation for Protection Officers)

 

Pro:

Advocates for prison privatization claim that more than two decades of experience with private prisons in the U.S. and other countries have demonstrated that contracting out can save governments money. The savings can amount to 15% to 25% on construction of prisons and 10% to 15% on management of correctional facilities.

 

Supporters also argue that private prisons not only have lower costs than public prisons, but also encourage public prisons to innovate and lower their costs due to the competition.

 

States with a higher number of prisoners in private prisons have lower costs of housing public prisoners, proponents contend. From 1999 through 2001, states without any private prisons saw per-prisoner costs rise by 18.9%, but in states where public prisons had to compete against private prisons, costs didn’t increase as much, only 8.1%, Alexander T. Tabarrok wrote for the Independent Institute.

Private Prisons Have Public Benefits (by Alexander T. Tabarrok, Independent Institute)

A Guide to Prison Privatization (by Dana Joel, Heritage Foundation)

 

Con:

Criticism of private prisons has emerged from human rights organizations, criminologists, economists, religious groups, community leaders, and correctional officers’ unions. These opponents say privatization has led to corruption, corrosive incentives, and a return to policies first born in the old confederate South.

 

These groups say private prisons really don’t save money for governments, because the companies’ top priority is to maximize profits. This results in a reduction of essential services within the prison, including medical care, food and clothing, and security, at the endangerment of the public, inmates, and staff.

 

Also, when considering the demographic makeup of U.S. prisons and the disproportionate number of blacks and Hispanics locked away, the privatization of prisons threatens to reinstitute a link between race and commerce that has not been seen since the 1800s when the Convict Lease System was tried, and ultimately proved a failure, opponents argue.

Private Prisons are Back (Corrections Project)

Public Interest Group Challenges Privatization Of Local, State Government Services (by Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post)

Private Prisons: Profits of Crime: Private prisons are a symptom, a response by private capital to the ‘opportunities’ created by society's temper tantrum approach to the problem of criminality (by Phil Smith, Covert Action Quarterly)

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Former Directors:

Current Director

Charles E. Samuels, Jr.

Official Bio

 

Former BOP Directors           

 

Harley G. Lappin

A native of Akron, Ohio, Lappin earned his BA in forensic studies from Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana) in 1978 and his MA in criminal justice and correctional administration from Kent State University (Kent, Ohio) in 1985. Lappin was a career BOP public administrator, who first went to work for the BOP in 1985 as a Case Manager at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Texarkana, Texas. He was subsequently promoted to Central Inmate Monitoring Administrator at the Western Regional Office in Belmont, California. In 1989, Lappin moved to FCI’s Jesup, Georgia, location as Camp Administrator, and became Associate Warden for the Federal Medical Center in Carville, Louisiana, in 1991. In 1993 he was selected as Branch Administrator of the Program Review Division at the Bureau’s Central Office in Washington D.C. He was promoted to warden at the FCI in Butner, North Carolina, in 1996, and in 1998 became warden at the United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, Indiana.

 

Lappin presided over the first two executions in the federal system since 1963—that of “Oklahoma City bomber” Timothy McVeigh, on June 11, 2001, followed by that of murderer and drug trafficker Juan Raul Garza a little more than a week later.

 

Lappin was promoted to Regional Director of the Mid-Atlantic region in July 2001. He was sworn in as BOP director in 2003 and left the post in 2011 before taking a high-level job with the Corrections Corporation of America (see “BOP Director Arrested, Takes New Job with Corrections Corporation” controversy).

Official Bio

 

 

 

 

 

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See all 39 comments

Comments

Elisabeth 5 days ago
my concern is only about health care because i am writing a paper for class. I think they should be given health care and i wonder what kind of health care are they getting?is it adequte? what kind of treatments are the addicts getting? does anyone deal with the reasin that they got on drugs to begin with? often there is a reason. maybe teaching them how to deal with stress and problems head on without getting frustrated and going to drugs would be a great idea.
Susan 5 months ago
If anyone can help me I would greatly appreciate it. Here is my story, My husband and I went to visit his son at Devon's last month and my husband got picked for the ION scan and failed, boom no visit that day, or for 48 hours. He works at a gun manufacturing company. We told the guards that and they pretty much said we don't care. Okay so I sent an appeal to the warden on April24,2014. Still waiting for a reply. Today May17, 2014 we tried to visit again, and again failed ION test. And again no visit. Is there who can tell me what I can do or who I can speak to about finding a way to be able to visit him at Devon's . Thank you
Donna Lee 5 months ago
would you please explain to me how a person can be sentenced to prison on drug charges and can get drugs easier in prison then on the streets. It does not matter if it is a state prison or private. I visit a family member in a private prison and when they got out of lock down for 4 days it was due to a pound of pot brought in. The way they search the visitors there is no way a visitor could have brought that in. No wonder we have repeat offenders in prison. They have it easier in prison then on the streets. I think some one needs to start checking on these Guards and Warrens that run these prison's in Oklahoma they talk about over populate but yet they fed them crap that you or I would not eat let alone feed to our animals. But then supplies them with Drugs. VERY CONFUSSED
angel_07 8 months ago
I wrote a sympathy letter of support to a high security inmate last month, will it go on my permanent record?
Zeda James 8 months ago
My brother Raymond Thomas #05447-050 has been held on a US Marshals detainer since 9/29/13. he has no federal parole time to complete, no state time and no warrants. He was supposed to be released from Florida CI on 9/29/13 and is still being held. His rights are being violated and the Fed Parole Commission says he has to have a hearing. Why since he has no more fed parole time to complete. No one will give me a straight answer, no one will inform him as to why he is being held. I am going to contact the Florida ACLU to see if they can get answers.
Aida Otero 1 year ago
My mother got ill the day before coming home. I sent all my information that i was responsible for her. the social worker said she has sepsis she was in critical conditon and two days later sent back to carswell. My concern is that she is 73 years has chronic emphasyma oxygen continuance 24 hours. I have no way in seeing her or reaching her. I filled out papers making me responsible for her financial health went above and beyond to get all her medical needs ready for her and the last thing i need is for her to go back to Carswell with only oral antibiotic SHE needs urgently to be on Iv and in a regular hospital and her last days home with her family she has served 99 percent of her time in april 2014 she was going to be completely free and no more home confinment. Can someone please contact I don't how to speed up this process so she can come home.
Beatrice Franklin-James 1 year ago
My son's name is Quentin C.Adams # 30519-044 . He is now in Greenville IL.I sent a $100 postal money order # 21399405827 on 09/27/2013 to your money PO Box. Just as before. He has not received the money yet. Would appreciate if you would check into this matter. Thank you very much. Mom
Diana Brooks 1 year ago
My son Marvin L. Barra Jr. MDOC #128432 is in NYC EMCF. HOUSING UNIT ONE. AN INMATE AKA CONCRETE VICELORD GANG MEMBER HAS BEEN CALLING ME AND HARASSING MY CHILD FOR PAYMENTS.MARVIN IS MENTALLY CHALLENGED WITH AN IS OF SIXTY NINE, HE SUFFERS FROM PTSD, ADD, SCHIZO AFFECTIVE. I AM UNDER ALOT OF STRESS DUE TO MY ONLY BROTHER UNTIMELY DEATH YESTERDAY. IF POSSIBLE ASSIST MY SON. HE WAS TO PURCHASE A KNIFE FOR PROTECTION BECAUSE NO ONE IS LISTENING TO HIS CRIES...I DON'T WANT MY CHILD TO GET IN TROUBLE AGAIN PLEASE INVESTIGATE THIS MATTER...
Juanita Jones 1 year ago
My daughter-in-law have not heard from her Husband who is incarcerated in a Mississippi (Yazoo Low) facility,in a week,Which is very unusual since he is a person that keep in touch with his family,Wife,Children and parents on the regular,Never in his whole life has he gone this long without even a phone call or an email.I am his Mother and the last time I got anything from his was on the 24th of May.After that it seems all communications stopped.I called and left a message for his counselor to return a phone call at 2:37 pm yesterday.May 30th.She did not call back yet,this young man is Scheduled to be transferred to a Camp facility soon.OK to make a long story short.When I call them the only thing they tell me is that he is still there.they don't even tell me wether or not he is sick.they tell us they can't give us that information.what would be a reason they would withhold information from an inmates family? If Someone can answer my question I would greatly appreciate it. My email adress is provided above:fancyjones@aol.com
pat faulkner 1 year ago
I have had no much luck with BOP I do not think they care about how they care for people and reentering them into society as changed people all they care about are numbers. Prisons are way over croded and prisoners are not getting what they need

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Founded: 1930
Annual Budget: $6.820 billion (FY 2013 Request)
Employees: 41,904 (FY 2013 Estimate)
Official Website: http://www.bop.gov/
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
Samuels Jr., Charles
Director

Charles E. Samuels, Jr., appointed director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) by Attorney General Eric Holder on December 21, 2011, started at the bottom as a correctional officer (prison guard) more than 23 years ago.

 
Born circa 1965 in Birmingham, Alabama, Samuels earned his B.S. in Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1987. Samuels also graduated the Harvard University Executive Education Program for senior managers in government in August 2007. 
 
Samuels began his career with the BOP as a correctional officer in March 1988. Subsequently, he was selected for positions of increasing responsibility, including Case Manager trainee at the medium security Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI”) in Talladega, Alabama; Case Manager at the medium security U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia; Community Corrections trainee and Community Corrections Oversight Specialist at the medium security FCI in Phoenix, Arizona; Unit Manager at the low security FCI for women in Dublin, California; Program Review Division Examiner at the BOP Central Office in Washington, DC; and Regional Correctional Programs Administrator and Executive Assistant for the Northeast Region.
 
Samuels served as Associate Warden at the medium security FCIs in Otisville, New York, and Beckley, West Virginia, and was named Ombudsman in the BOP Central Office. He was promoted to Warden and served as Warden at the medium security FCI in Manchester, Kentucky (circa 2005), and the low security FCI in Fort Dix, New Jersey (circa 2006-2010). He was named Senior Deputy Assistant Director of the Correctional Programs Division (CPD) on November 2, 2010, and was promoted to CPD Assistant Director just two months later, in January 2011. In that position, Samuels oversaw all inmate management and program functions.
 
In June 2006, he was appointed to the Senior Executive Service while serving as Warden at FCI Fort Dix.
 
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Overview:

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is an agency within the Department of Justice responsible for administration of the federal prison system. BOP is headquartered in Washington D.C., and currently includes 117 prisons, 6 regional offices, 2 staff training centers, and 22 community corrections offices. The agency is responsible for the custody and care of nearly 219,000 federal inmates (projected FY 2013 total)—about 80% of whom are incarcerated in government facilities, with the remaining in private prisons and other local facilities. The Bureau is also responsible for carrying out all legally mandated federal executions, and maintains a lethal injections center in Terre Haute, Indiana—where in 2001, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was the first federal prisoner to be executed in almost 40 years. In addition to its use of capital punishment, the BOP has been subject to criticism over budget and program cuts, privatization, and agency contracting practices.

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History:

Located within the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) was established in 1930 with a mandate to manage and regulate “all federal penal correctional institutions.” At the time of its founding, the agency’s reach included 11 federal prisons. By the end of 1930, the bureau operated 14 facilities for just over 13,000 inmates—an operation that grew to 24 facilities and 24,360 inmates by 1940.

 

However, notwithstanding minor changes, the inmate population remained relatively stable through 1980, when the population stood at 24,252. As the operational structure transitioned over time—from large facilities of mixed security levels, to smaller facilities confining inmates of similar security needs—the number of facilities almost doubled.

 

According to the Bureau, federal law enforcement efforts and new legislation in the 1980s dramatically altered sentencing and caused a spike in federal inmate numbers: “The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 established determinate sentencing, abolished parole, and reduced good time; additionally, several mandatory minimum sentencing provisions were enacted in 1986, 1988, and 1990. From 1980 to 1989, the inmate population more than doubled, from just over 24,000 to almost 58,000. During the 1990s, the population more than doubled again, reaching approximately 136,000 at the end of 1999 as efforts to combat illegal drugs and illegal immigration contributed to significantly increased conviction rates.”

 

Staffing levels grew concurrently with inmate numbers, from about 10,000 bureau employees in 1980 to just over 19,000 in 1990. Projected levels for 2013 were about 42,000.

 

A Brief History of the Bureau of Prisons

National Archives Guide to Federal Records of the Bureau of Prisons“Fallen Heroes” or BOP workers who have been killed by inmates since 1901

Brief History of Alcatraz

 

Capital Punishment

In addition to state capital punishment laws, the federal government also uses the death penalty for certain federal offenses. Since its introduction in 1790, 336 men and four women have been executed. In the 20th century, 16% of federal executions were minority defendants. (See Race and the Federal Death Penalty.) There were 37 federal executions between 1927 and 2003. In 1972 the Supreme Court ruled that all state death penalty statutes were unconstitutional because they allowed for “arbitrary and capricious application”—a ruling that similarly affected the federal statute. Between 1963 and the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1988, there were no federal executions.

Bureau’s List of Executions of Federal Prisoners (since 1927)

Federal Executions

Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project

Federal Death Row and Description of Cases
Results in Federal Capital Prosecutions and Background on Federal Death Penalty
Federal Capital Offenses

Federal Executions Since 1927

Responses to Terrorism (including Military Tribunals and the case of Zacarias Moussaoui)

 

The Federal Death Penalty System: A Statistical Survey (1988-2000)

President Bill Clinton commissioned a study from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to examine its decision-making process for seeking the death penalty in individual cases—and to collect statistical information on racial, ethnic, and geographic distribution of defendants and their victims.

 

Released in 2000, the study found dramatic racial and geographic disparities, revealing that 80% of the cases submitted for death penalty review in the previous five-year period were for (racial) minority defendants—African-Americans were defendants in more than half of the cases. The report also found that 40% of 682 cases sent to the DOJ for approval were filed by only five jurisdictions.

Source: dealthpenaltyinfo.org

 

Racial Disparities in Federal Death Penalty Prosecutions: 1988-1994, prepared by the Death Penalty Information Center at the request of the Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights.

Source: The Federal Death Penalty

 

ACLU Capital Punishment Project

ACLU Letter to House Judiciary Committee Voicing Opposition to H.R. 3060, Terrorist Death Penalty Enhancement Act of 2005 (ACLU web site)

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What it Does:

From the BOP Web Site:

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) consists of 119 prisons, six regional offices, a headquarters, two staff training centers, and 22 residential reentry management offices (formerly known as community corrections offices). The regional offices and the headquarters are responsible for overseeing and providing support to the prisons and residential reentry management offices. The latter then oversees residential reentry centers and home confinement programs. The BOP is also responsible for the care and custody of nearly 219,000 federal inmates; 79% of these inmates are currently staying in correctional facilities or detention centers. The remaining 21% are staying in private prisons, community facilities or local jails.

Prison Types/General Information

 

Organization

Central Office
Office Complexes
Prison Facilities
Regional Offices

Staff Training Centers

 

Population and Demographics [as of July 2013]

Total population: 218,952

Total sentenced population: 205,117

Inmates in BOP facilities: 176,423

Inmates in privately managed secure facilities: 29,427

Inmates in other contract facilities: 13,102

Statistics at a glance:

  • 93.3% of inmates are male
  • One out of four inmates are not U.S. citizens; the majority of these are citizens of Mexico
  • The average inmate age is 39 years old
  • 71.4% of inmates are serving a sentence of five years or more
  • 46.8% of inmates are serving time for a drug offense whereas 83 inmates (0.0%) are serving time for national security
  • 11.2% of inmates are held in high security prisons
  • 57 inmates are under sentence of death

Inmate Breakdown

Sentence Imposed
Types of Offenses

Staff Breakdown

 

Inmate Matters and Program Links

Designations

Education

Employing Ex-Offenders

Female Offenders

Inmate Money

Inmate Skills

Juveniles

Personal Property

Release Preparation

Sentence Computations

Substance Abuse Treatment

Temporary Release

UNICOR

Victim/Witness Notification Program

Visiting, Telephone, E-mail & Correspondence

Work Programs

 

From the Web Site of the Federal Bureau of Prisons

Careers

Contact Information

Doing Business with BOP

Fallen Heroes

Federal Executions

Federal Prison Facilities

Inmate Locator

Inmate Matters

News and Information

Organizational Chart

Policy and Forms

Population Report

Publications

Quick Facts

Research and Reports

Strategic Planning

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Where Does the Money Go:

The Bureau of Prisons spent more than $340.5 million on contractor services between 2004 and 2013, according to USAspending.gov. The top four kinds of products and services it purchased were miscellaneous professional services ($130,395,594), office furniture ($77,614,100), social rehabilitation ($77,034,223), and fences and gates ($14,455,118).

 

The top five recipients of this contractor spending during that period were:

 

1.         Domus Holdings Corp.                                   $101,700,327 

2.         Government of the United States                     $84,895,315 

3.         Corrections Corporation of America                $69,747,316 

4.         Prudential Financial Inc.                                   $27,402,214 

5.         SIGCOM-GDI Fencing Solutions LLC           $14,455,118

 

Stakeholders: Department of Justice, BOP, and other correctional agencies; Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (FPI, also known as UNICOR); Corrections Corporation of America (CCA, the largest U.S. private prison operator) and the GEO Group; subcontractors for private and government management and builders; prison employees and unions; prisoners and their families; communities where prisons are located.

Federal Prison Industries

Prison Activist Resource Center – fights institutionalized racism in the prison system

American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO – includes BOP organizing

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Controversies:

Federal Prison Industry “Mandatory Source” Clause Draws Controversy

Officials with the Federal Prison Industries (FPI), which sells office furniture, clothing, and other products to U.S. government agencies, warned in 2008 that its operations expected to lose millions of dollars in sales because of a proposed new law.

 

The FPI had long been a mandatory source for federal purchases. But the Defense Authorization Act of 2008 required the Pentagon to consider bids from other sources.

 

The mandate affected goods and services of which the Defense Department purchased more than 5% from FPI—if the prison industry didn’t offer the best quality, price, and delivery time.

 

The new rule was likely to result in FPI losing at least $144 million in sales and 3,250 inmate jobs, then-Bureau of Prisons (BOP) director Harley Lappin, told the House Judiciary Committee. BOP corrections officers estimated that the losses would be about twice as high.

 

Similar bills introduced in 2012 died in committee. In May 2013, another bill was introduced, and promptly referred to committee, which would give the FPI a five-year period to adjust to the idea of actually competing with industries on a level playing field, and instead offer prisoners real opportunities to learn vocational skills or work in support of nonprofits or other public service agencies. That bill is estimated to have a 1 in 20 chance of passing. Meantime, the FPI beat out a Tennessee company that made clothing for the military; that company, Tennier, ended up losing a $45 million contract and laying off 100 workers.

Federal prison industries program expects to lose millions in sales (by Elise Castelli, Federal Times)

Competing with prison labor (by Diane Cardwell, New York Times)

H.R. 2098: Federal Prison Industries Competition in Contracting Act of 2013 (GovTrack.us)

Federal Prison Industries (Wikipedia)

 

Prison Industry Brings Claims of Slave Labor

Critics of the U.S. prison labor industry have accused it of exploiting prisoners and operating as legalized slave labor.

 

As of 2013, there were approximately two million inmates locked away in U.S. prisons at the state and federal level. Many of these prisons were operated by private contractors trying to turn incarceration into a for-profit enterprise. Correctional facilities operated by states and the federal government were faulted for putting prisoners to work for low wages, making as little as 25 cents an hour.

 

The accusations of turning inmates into slave labor were even more acute when it was pointed out that the majority of these individuals were minorities, primarily black and Hispanic.

 

More than three-dozen states were reportedly using prison labor to help corporations produce their products. The list included such companies as IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Texas Instruments, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nordstrom, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more.

The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery? (by Vicky Pelaez, El Diario-La Prensa, New York and Global Research)

The Myth of Prison Slave Labor Camps in the U.S. (by James Kilgore, Counterpunch)

Big Business Or Slave Labor? What Prisoners Make In Jail (NewsOne)

 

BOP Director Arrested, Takes New Job with Corrections Corporation

Harley Lappin, director of the BOP, was arrested in February 2011 for driving under the influence. But the embarrassment did nothing to harm Lappin’s chance to accept a lucrative executive position with the nation’s leading private-prison operator.

 

Shortly after his drunk driving arrest, Lappin announced his plans to retire from the BOP after eight years as its leader, but declared that the incident had nothing to do with his decision to resign. Within a month of leaving the BOP, he became the chief correctional officer of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

 

Critics of the move pointed out that while he ran the BOP, Lappin awarded CCA multiple government contracts totaling more than a hundred million dollars.

 

For example, Lappin approved a 2005 deal with CCA worth $129 million to manage a low-security federal facility in Youngstown, Ohio.

 

In his new post, he sent out a letter inviting states to sell their prisons to CCA and noted that such a move could help them relieve the strains on their tight corrections budgets.

Former Bureau of Prisons Director Comes Out of Retirement for Private Prison (by Walter Pavlo, Forbes)

Harley Lappin, 99% Lock In Guarantee, CCA & DUI (War on Error, Daily Kos)

Soon-to-be retired federal prisons director charged with DUI in Arundel (by Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post)

Outgoing Bureau of Prisons director Harley Lappin arrested for drunk driving (by Mike Riggs, Daily Caller)

More on Privatization and Money

More Prison Inmates Could Mean More Money for Towns (Associate Press)

Up for sale: prisons and prisoners (by Janet Sutherland, Freedom Socialist)

 

Obama Tries to Move Guantánamo Prisoners to Illinois

As one of his very first acts after taking office, President Barack Obama moved to shut down the prison at Guantánamo Bay and move its detainees to prisons in the United States.

 

But Obama’s plan ran into serious opposition in Congress, which must approve any transfer of detainees because federal law currently bans such suspects from being housed on American soil.

 

Even a modest move consisting of transferring a “limited number” of terrorism suspects to an underutilized state-of-the-art detention facility in Illinois went nowhere.

 

Obama, who served in the U.S. Senate from Illinois, gained the support of ranking politicians, such as Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn, both Democrats, for his proposal for the BOP to buy and use the Thomson Correctional Center, a state prison in northwestern Illinois. Democrats said the housing of some of the Guantánamo detainees at the largely empty, maximum-security prison would create 1,100 new jobs for the local economy, which was struggling during the Great Recession.

 

Although Democrats controlled both houses of Congress at the time, Republicans were so vociferous in their opposition to bring detainees to Thomson or other federal penitentiaries that Obama was unable to get the necessary votes on Capitol Hill for his plan. The Thomson facility closed on April 30, 2010, but a deal to buy it and turn it into a maximum-security federal prison for U.S. convicts went through late in 2012. The 2014 Justice Department budget proposal included funds to fully activate Thomson by 2015 in order to alleviate prison overcrowding.

Lawmakers say progress made on Thomson prison (by Chuck Sweeny, Rockford Register Star)

Obama Tells Prison to Take Detainees (by Helena Cooper and David Johnston, New York Times)

Lawmakers Spar Over Decision to Transfer Gitmo Detainees to Illinois Prison (Fox News)

No Bids at Thomson Prison Auction (by Monique Garcia, Chicago Tribune)

U.S. Planning To Go Ahead with Plan To Buy Illinois Prison (by Christi Parsons, Chicago Tribune)

Civil Liberties Groups Join GOP in Opposition to Obama Version of Closing Guantánamo (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

4 U.S. Cities Compete to House Guantánamo Prisoners (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

 

Bush’s Budget and Private Contracts

President George W. Bush’s 2005 budget put a moratorium on the BOP’s construction of new prisons—instead providing funding for 4,500 additional “contract beds” in an attempt to bring the contract market up to speed with a burgeoning prison population.

 

Per the budget: “BOP’s total prison population increased by 10% between 2002 and 2003 but its contract population remained largely static. The 2005 request was intended to help reverse this trend. The 2005 budget placed a moratorium on new prison construction while promoting more aggressive BOP contracting with state, local and private sector providers.”

 

Privatization of Criminal Justice

Since the 1980s, expanding prison populations and fiscal constraints have led to increased privatization of the federal prison system, with DOJ agencies including BOP relying on state, local and private prisons to house federal inmates. The government has come under criticism for its contracting practices, which increased the risk of default among private service providers typically contracted for management and construction—thereby increasing security risks.

 

In a 2000/2001 report, the Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the state and local providers consistently overcharged the government, criticized the BOP for relying too heavily on a few private contractors, and pointed to an unstable procurement practice. In response, Congress passed legislation authorizing the DOJ to procure private prison services through “nontraditional” or “innovative” agreements—meaning more flexible terms. Under the law, agencies are allowed to procure services independently of traditional government contracting rules.

 Crime pays for US prison companies (Agence France-Presse) 

Reforming prison contracting: An examination of federal private prison contracts (by Joseph Summerill, Corrections Today)

The Department of Justice's Reliance on Private Contractors for Prison Services (Report No. 01-16, Report from the National Institute of Justice)

Going Backwards: Federal Government Saves Private Prisons As State Convict Population Levels Off  (by Joseph T. Hallinan, Wall Street Journal)

Quality of Prison Operations in the U.S. Federal Sector: A Comparison with a Private Prison  (by Scott D. Camp, Gerald G. Gaes, and William G. Saylor, Office of Research and Evaluation,

Federal Bureau of Prisons) (pdf)

Statutory Authority to Contract With the Private Sector for Secure Facilities (Memorandum Opinion BOP)

Cost, Performance Studies Look at Prison Privatization (by Gerry Gaes, Ph.D., DOJ)

Cafeteria Funds Private Prisons, activist says (by Ariel Troster, Link)

 

Shock Incarceration Program Cut

The BOP abruptly announced that it would shutter the Intensive Confinement Center (ICC) program—without even consulting judges or lawyers about the usefulness of the “boot camp” program that was designed to rehabilitate first-time, nonviolent offenders. The announcement came in a January 5, 2005, memo by then-Prison Bureau Director Harley G. Lappin that also revealed cuts in counseling and rehabilitation programs as cost-reduction initiatives.

 

The ICC program was operated within BOP facilities in Bryan, Texas; Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; and Lompoc, California. In calling for putting an end to them, the BOP would save approximately $1.2 million, and noted that “shock incarceration” didn’t reduce the recidivism rate anyway, compared to inmates who served their time in traditional institutions. Not only that, according to the BOP, operating the boot camps and housing the inmates cost more than ordinary minimum-security camps. 

 

Opponents of closing the program, including Assistant Federal Defender Timothy Hoover, noted that the BOP didn’t produce any studies to back up its claim that the boot camps didn’t reduce recidivism. In addition, inmates tended to spend less time in custody when they were in the camps at an obvious cost saving compared to traditional prisoners.

Alternative Incarceration Program Discontinued (Daily Record)

Intensive Confinement Center Program (Federal Register)

 

Ban on Religious Books

The BOP created an uproar in 2007 when officials tried to ban a large number of religious books from prison libraries.

 

The removal of the books was part of a long-delayed directive adopted after 9/11 that was intended to prevent radical religious texts, specifically Islamic ones, from falling into the hands of violent inmates.

 

The move provoked a lawsuit by three inmates at the federal prison camp in Otisville, New York, who claimed the ban violated their constitutional rights.

 

The BOP then reversed its decision and put the books back on prison library shelves.

 

However, later that same year, after a comprehensive examination of prison chapel libraries, BOP officials were considering a similar policy that would result in some books being removed.

 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for the BOP not to renew the policy, saying it violated the rights of prisoners.

 

“We acknowledge the legitimate need to regulate prisoner access to texts that advocate violence, but a policy that places an arbitrary numerical cap on the religious books and documents available to incarcerated persons infringes on their right to freedom of religious worship, observance and practice, and violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” David C. Fathi at HRW wrote in a letter to the agency.

Human Rights Watch Urges Federal Bureau of Prisons Not to Re-Institute Broad Ban of Religious Books (David Fathi, Human Rights Watch)

Inmates File Suit After Prisons Ban Some Religious Books Over Terrorism Fears (Associated Press)

 

Timothy McVeigh—Oklahoma City Bomber—First Federal Inmate Executed since 1963

In June 2011, the federal government executed its first prisoner in 38 years: Timothy McVeigh.

 

The convicted bomber of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, McVeigh died by lethal injection on June 10.

 

It was the first federal execution since 1963. The use of the death penalty for the first time in decades brought out about 75 protesters who held a vigil outside the site, the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

 

McVeigh reportedly did not make a verbal statement before he was executed. But in a handwritten statement, McVeigh quoted a section of William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus,” which reads in part: “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”

 

The April 19, 1995, attack in Oklahoma City killed 168 people and wounded hundreds more.

 Timothy McVeigh dead (CNN)

A glance, a nod, silence and death (by Julian Borger, Guardian)

Timothy James McVeigh (ClarkProsecutor.org)

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Suggested Reforms:

Prison Overcrowding

With automatic budget cuts looming, Attorney General Eric Holder warned members of Congress in early 2013 that the sequestration could increase security risks inside the overcrowded federal prison system.

 

Holder told Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) could not afford a 5% reduction in revenue as a result of sequestration.

 

The attorney general wrote in a letter to Mikulski: “[The cuts] would endanger the safety of staff and over 218,000 inmates. As a consequence, BOP would need to implement full or partial lockdowns and significantly reduce inmate reentry and training programs. This would leave inmates idle, increasing the likelihood of inmate misconduct, violence, and other risks to correctional workers and inmates.”

 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) used Holder’s warning as an opportunity to call for sentencing reforms in an effort to reduce the number of people behind bars.

 

Charles Samuels, director of the BOP, echoed the ACLU’s recommendation, telling Congress that the increase in the prison population was due to harsh sentencing and increasing prosecutions of drug offenses. Samuels said that “drug offenders comprise the largest single offender group admitted to federal prison, and sentences for drug offenses are much longer than those for most other offense categories.”

Sequestration Puts Spotlight on America’s Dangerously Overcrowded Federal Prisons (by Jesselyn McCurdy, American Civil Liberties Union)

DOJ Must Take Lead on Prison Overcrowding (by Mary Price, Main Justice)

Overcrowding In Federal Prisons Harms Inmates, Guards: GAO Report (by Michael McLaughlin, Huffington Post)

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Debate:

Should the prison system be privatized?

The idea of privatizing prisons in the U.S. goes back to the 19th century. Following the Civil War, some Southern states employed the Convict Lease System, which involved the leasing out of prisoners to serve as laborers for railroads, mining companies, plantations, and logging operations. But this system was troubled with corruption and other problems, including frequent escapes by inmates and mistreatment of prisoners that ultimately resulted in the system losing business and disappearing altogether.

 

For most of the 20th century, governments gave little if any thought to using private companies to house convicted criminals. But with changes in sentencing laws during the 1970s and 1980s came a surge in prison populations. Public correctional systems soon grew so overcrowded due to the increase that lawmakers began looking for answers.

 

Along came Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a Tennessee-based company that sought to exploit the growing problem of prison populations by offering to take many inmates off the hands of state agencies. Other companies soon jumped into the business, which launched a debate that began in the 1990s and continued into the 21st century over whether it was a good idea for state and local governments, as well as the federal Bureau of Prisons, to contract out prison operations.

Cost of Prisons: Bureau of Prisons Needs Better Data to Assess Alternatives for Acquiring Low and Minimum Security Facilities (GAO) (pdf)

Private and Public Prisons - Studies Comparing Operational Costs and/or Quality of Service GAO GGD-96-158 (GAO) (pdf)

Prison Privatization: Past and Present (by Matthew Zito, International Foundation for Protection Officers)

 

Pro:

Advocates for prison privatization claim that more than two decades of experience with private prisons in the U.S. and other countries have demonstrated that contracting out can save governments money. The savings can amount to 15% to 25% on construction of prisons and 10% to 15% on management of correctional facilities.

 

Supporters also argue that private prisons not only have lower costs than public prisons, but also encourage public prisons to innovate and lower their costs due to the competition.

 

States with a higher number of prisoners in private prisons have lower costs of housing public prisoners, proponents contend. From 1999 through 2001, states without any private prisons saw per-prisoner costs rise by 18.9%, but in states where public prisons had to compete against private prisons, costs didn’t increase as much, only 8.1%, Alexander T. Tabarrok wrote for the Independent Institute.

Private Prisons Have Public Benefits (by Alexander T. Tabarrok, Independent Institute)

A Guide to Prison Privatization (by Dana Joel, Heritage Foundation)

 

Con:

Criticism of private prisons has emerged from human rights organizations, criminologists, economists, religious groups, community leaders, and correctional officers’ unions. These opponents say privatization has led to corruption, corrosive incentives, and a return to policies first born in the old confederate South.

 

These groups say private prisons really don’t save money for governments, because the companies’ top priority is to maximize profits. This results in a reduction of essential services within the prison, including medical care, food and clothing, and security, at the endangerment of the public, inmates, and staff.

 

Also, when considering the demographic makeup of U.S. prisons and the disproportionate number of blacks and Hispanics locked away, the privatization of prisons threatens to reinstitute a link between race and commerce that has not been seen since the 1800s when the Convict Lease System was tried, and ultimately proved a failure, opponents argue.

Private Prisons are Back (Corrections Project)

Public Interest Group Challenges Privatization Of Local, State Government Services (by Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post)

Private Prisons: Profits of Crime: Private prisons are a symptom, a response by private capital to the ‘opportunities’ created by society's temper tantrum approach to the problem of criminality (by Phil Smith, Covert Action Quarterly)

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Former Directors:

Current Director

Charles E. Samuels, Jr.

Official Bio

 

Former BOP Directors           

 

Harley G. Lappin

A native of Akron, Ohio, Lappin earned his BA in forensic studies from Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana) in 1978 and his MA in criminal justice and correctional administration from Kent State University (Kent, Ohio) in 1985. Lappin was a career BOP public administrator, who first went to work for the BOP in 1985 as a Case Manager at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Texarkana, Texas. He was subsequently promoted to Central Inmate Monitoring Administrator at the Western Regional Office in Belmont, California. In 1989, Lappin moved to FCI’s Jesup, Georgia, location as Camp Administrator, and became Associate Warden for the Federal Medical Center in Carville, Louisiana, in 1991. In 1993 he was selected as Branch Administrator of the Program Review Division at the Bureau’s Central Office in Washington D.C. He was promoted to warden at the FCI in Butner, North Carolina, in 1996, and in 1998 became warden at the United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, Indiana.

 

Lappin presided over the first two executions in the federal system since 1963—that of “Oklahoma City bomber” Timothy McVeigh, on June 11, 2001, followed by that of murderer and drug trafficker Juan Raul Garza a little more than a week later.

 

Lappin was promoted to Regional Director of the Mid-Atlantic region in July 2001. He was sworn in as BOP director in 2003 and left the post in 2011 before taking a high-level job with the Corrections Corporation of America (see “BOP Director Arrested, Takes New Job with Corrections Corporation” controversy).

Official Bio

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Elisabeth 5 days ago
my concern is only about health care because i am writing a paper for class. I think they should be given health care and i wonder what kind of health care are they getting?is it adequte? what kind of treatments are the addicts getting? does anyone deal with the reasin that they got on drugs to begin with? often there is a reason. maybe teaching them how to deal with stress and problems head on without getting frustrated and going to drugs would be a great idea.
Susan 5 months ago
If anyone can help me I would greatly appreciate it. Here is my story, My husband and I went to visit his son at Devon's last month and my husband got picked for the ION scan and failed, boom no visit that day, or for 48 hours. He works at a gun manufacturing company. We told the guards that and they pretty much said we don't care. Okay so I sent an appeal to the warden on April24,2014. Still waiting for a reply. Today May17, 2014 we tried to visit again, and again failed ION test. And again no visit. Is there who can tell me what I can do or who I can speak to about finding a way to be able to visit him at Devon's . Thank you
Donna Lee 5 months ago
would you please explain to me how a person can be sentenced to prison on drug charges and can get drugs easier in prison then on the streets. It does not matter if it is a state prison or private. I visit a family member in a private prison and when they got out of lock down for 4 days it was due to a pound of pot brought in. The way they search the visitors there is no way a visitor could have brought that in. No wonder we have repeat offenders in prison. They have it easier in prison then on the streets. I think some one needs to start checking on these Guards and Warrens that run these prison's in Oklahoma they talk about over populate but yet they fed them crap that you or I would not eat let alone feed to our animals. But then supplies them with Drugs. VERY CONFUSSED
angel_07 8 months ago
I wrote a sympathy letter of support to a high security inmate last month, will it go on my permanent record?
Zeda James 8 months ago
My brother Raymond Thomas #05447-050 has been held on a US Marshals detainer since 9/29/13. he has no federal parole time to complete, no state time and no warrants. He was supposed to be released from Florida CI on 9/29/13 and is still being held. His rights are being violated and the Fed Parole Commission says he has to have a hearing. Why since he has no more fed parole time to complete. No one will give me a straight answer, no one will inform him as to why he is being held. I am going to contact the Florida ACLU to see if they can get answers.
Aida Otero 1 year ago
My mother got ill the day before coming home. I sent all my information that i was responsible for her. the social worker said she has sepsis she was in critical conditon and two days later sent back to carswell. My concern is that she is 73 years has chronic emphasyma oxygen continuance 24 hours. I have no way in seeing her or reaching her. I filled out papers making me responsible for her financial health went above and beyond to get all her medical needs ready for her and the last thing i need is for her to go back to Carswell with only oral antibiotic SHE needs urgently to be on Iv and in a regular hospital and her last days home with her family she has served 99 percent of her time in april 2014 she was going to be completely free and no more home confinment. Can someone please contact I don't how to speed up this process so she can come home.
Beatrice Franklin-James 1 year ago
My son's name is Quentin C.Adams # 30519-044 . He is now in Greenville IL.I sent a $100 postal money order # 21399405827 on 09/27/2013 to your money PO Box. Just as before. He has not received the money yet. Would appreciate if you would check into this matter. Thank you very much. Mom
Diana Brooks 1 year ago
My son Marvin L. Barra Jr. MDOC #128432 is in NYC EMCF. HOUSING UNIT ONE. AN INMATE AKA CONCRETE VICELORD GANG MEMBER HAS BEEN CALLING ME AND HARASSING MY CHILD FOR PAYMENTS.MARVIN IS MENTALLY CHALLENGED WITH AN IS OF SIXTY NINE, HE SUFFERS FROM PTSD, ADD, SCHIZO AFFECTIVE. I AM UNDER ALOT OF STRESS DUE TO MY ONLY BROTHER UNTIMELY DEATH YESTERDAY. IF POSSIBLE ASSIST MY SON. HE WAS TO PURCHASE A KNIFE FOR PROTECTION BECAUSE NO ONE IS LISTENING TO HIS CRIES...I DON'T WANT MY CHILD TO GET IN TROUBLE AGAIN PLEASE INVESTIGATE THIS MATTER...
Juanita Jones 1 year ago
My daughter-in-law have not heard from her Husband who is incarcerated in a Mississippi (Yazoo Low) facility,in a week,Which is very unusual since he is a person that keep in touch with his family,Wife,Children and parents on the regular,Never in his whole life has he gone this long without even a phone call or an email.I am his Mother and the last time I got anything from his was on the 24th of May.After that it seems all communications stopped.I called and left a message for his counselor to return a phone call at 2:37 pm yesterday.May 30th.She did not call back yet,this young man is Scheduled to be transferred to a Camp facility soon.OK to make a long story short.When I call them the only thing they tell me is that he is still there.they don't even tell me wether or not he is sick.they tell us they can't give us that information.what would be a reason they would withhold information from an inmates family? If Someone can answer my question I would greatly appreciate it. My email adress is provided above:fancyjones@aol.com
pat faulkner 1 year ago
I have had no much luck with BOP I do not think they care about how they care for people and reentering them into society as changed people all they care about are numbers. Prisons are way over croded and prisoners are not getting what they need

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Founded: 1930
Annual Budget: $6.820 billion (FY 2013 Request)
Employees: 41,904 (FY 2013 Estimate)
Official Website: http://www.bop.gov/
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
Samuels Jr., Charles
Director

Charles E. Samuels, Jr., appointed director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) by Attorney General Eric Holder on December 21, 2011, started at the bottom as a correctional officer (prison guard) more than 23 years ago.

 
Born circa 1965 in Birmingham, Alabama, Samuels earned his B.S. in Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1987. Samuels also graduated the Harvard University Executive Education Program for senior managers in government in August 2007. 
 
Samuels began his career with the BOP as a correctional officer in March 1988. Subsequently, he was selected for positions of increasing responsibility, including Case Manager trainee at the medium security Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI”) in Talladega, Alabama; Case Manager at the medium security U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia; Community Corrections trainee and Community Corrections Oversight Specialist at the medium security FCI in Phoenix, Arizona; Unit Manager at the low security FCI for women in Dublin, California; Program Review Division Examiner at the BOP Central Office in Washington, DC; and Regional Correctional Programs Administrator and Executive Assistant for the Northeast Region.
 
Samuels served as Associate Warden at the medium security FCIs in Otisville, New York, and Beckley, West Virginia, and was named Ombudsman in the BOP Central Office. He was promoted to Warden and served as Warden at the medium security FCI in Manchester, Kentucky (circa 2005), and the low security FCI in Fort Dix, New Jersey (circa 2006-2010). He was named Senior Deputy Assistant Director of the Correctional Programs Division (CPD) on November 2, 2010, and was promoted to CPD Assistant Director just two months later, in January 2011. In that position, Samuels oversaw all inmate management and program functions.
 
In June 2006, he was appointed to the Senior Executive Service while serving as Warden at FCI Fort Dix.
 
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