Convicts Travel Between Prisons Alone by Bus

Monday, May 04, 2009
Leave the Transferring to Us (photo: Pfaff)

Government cost-cutting has taken a startling form in the Federal Bureau of Prison’s “unescorted transfer” program. Through this program, which began in 1996, inmates moving between minimum security detention facilities, halfway houses, and prison camps are transferred unescorted on buses and in taxis, and by family members. Since April 2006 more than 5,300 convicts have been moved between minimum security detention facilities and more than 54,000 have been transferred to halfway houses using this program. 

Between 2003 and 2005 at least 77 inmates escaped while transferring themselves between minimum security facilities and 19 evaded recapture. 
Bus companies Jefferson and Greyhound, which are most often used in these transfers, object to this program because they are not informed when the Federal Bureau of Prisons places convicts on their vehicles. Yet there have been no violent incidents involving inmates onboard buses, so the companies have little recourse when bringing their reservations before the government. 
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has answered such worries by saying that the convicts transferred in this way are deemed not to be a severe risk to the public. The bureau also cites this program as a cost-cutting measure which saves millions of taxpayer dollars every year on staff and transportation costs. 
Despite these arguments, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar recently sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding to know why this practice has been allowed to continue in the face of protests from the bus companies involved. When the existence of the program first caught the attention of Congress in 2005, it was then-Senator Joe Biden who took the lead in questioning it. Now that Biden is part of the executive branch, the bus companies and others will be watching to see if he addresses their concerns.
-Kyle Kuersten
Feds Refuse Response to Inmate Transfer Investigation (by Nicole Muehlhausen, Minneapolis-St. Paul KSTP)
Prison Board Reveals Number of Bus-Riding Escapees (by Joe Cantlupe and David Hasemyer, Copley News Service)
Prison Agency Still Mum on Unescorted Transfers (by Joe Cantlupe, Copley News Service)


Leave a comment