A Just Cause

Defunding Camps Will Help Solve Crisis at Federal Bureau of Prisons, Says a Just Cause

Petty Policing at Federal Prison Camps by BOP Costing Taxpayers Billions & Endangering Public


Denver, CO -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/11/2017 --According to USA Today (April 9, 2017) the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) paid $2 million dollars in bonuses to top administrators despite failures to deal with overcrowding, chronic staffing shortages, sexual harassment problems and providing inadequate healthcare to thousands of inmates. One former BOP official told government auditors that medical staffing vacancies had reached a "crisis level" and in 2016, the Inspector General found that prison authorities were struggling to provide adequate healthcare to thousands of inmates due to persistent staffing shortages. The staffing shortages, according to a USA Today examination last year, were cascading across the system, often forcing unqualified nurses, physical therapists and other senior medical staffers to fill gaps on guard duty and other security-related shifts -- a poor decision that has endangered both prison staff and the public. "Fraud waste and abuse at federal prison camps is the real crisis for the BOP," contends Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause.

"Fraud, waste, abuse and rewarding subpar staff is pervasive throughout the BOP because their primary objective is shipping, receiving and warehousing people, not a real concern for solving problems or providing legitimate services for the health and well-being of those housed at their institutions," adds Banks. "A glaring example of this is in federal prison camps (FPC) where the BOP wastes over a billion dollars per year to what amounts to petty policing and pretends to provide security, quality healthcare and other services for 22,000 non-violent offenders or "campers" at 76 "out-custody", campus-style prison camps without walls, fences, or bars" adds Banks. "It's no secret that the central goal of incarceration is to protect the public by imprisoning dangerous people from society," says Banks. "Given that campers are considered non-dangerous and housed at facilities without walls, bars or fences, the BOP is wasting taxpayer money providing faux security because no threat to the public exists," adds Banks. "Hundreds of millions of dollars are also spent on staffing many other correctional officers, administrators and medical support staff, who, in reality are paid solely to enforce petty, absurd rules and harass campers because the services the BOP claims to provide for the benefit of a camper are insignificant and virtually non-existent," says Banks. "A home-confinement policy for first-time non-violent offenders not only helps resolve overcrowding and staffing shortages by reassigning camp personnel to higher security institutions to fill the staffing void, but is a cost effective, politically viable alternative where non-dangerous first-time offenders can pay their debt to society without the huge financial costs to the taxpayers and destructive impact on families and society," contends Banks.

A Just Cause has conducted a review of the federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado, where correctional officers and other government employees allegedly provide services in the areas of security, food service, clothing, religious services, housing, counseling, case management, education, maintenance, laundry, recreation, commissary, family visiting, receiving & discharge and mail room. "FPC Florence is the posterchild for BOP fraud, waste and abuse and is why AJC is recommending that Congress immediately defund prison camps in its impending spending bill," exclaims Banks.

Custody/Security officers at camps walk around most of the day stopping and frisking inmates and searching housing units and personal lockers for chow hall food, tobacco, cell phones and other petty contraband, as well as telling inmates to tuck their shirt in, put on boots with their uniform instead of tennis shoes and periodically counting the number to make sure no one has walked away. Sometimes as many as three correctional officers or more, including lieutenants, captains and the warden will stand outside the dining hall to make sure campers don't take fruit back to the housing unit to eat later. Paying a correctional officer $30 to $40 thousand per year plus benefits (or more) to police clothing, smoking (which isn't illegal if home-confined) and frisking for fruit, is an absurd way to spend taxpayer money. Periodic counting is the only security measure used to make sure everyone is accounted for and can be easily replaced with ankle monitoring technology that provides automatic notification when a person is away from home.

Why are we as taxpayers buying food and paying officers to keep food secure and oversee the preparation of meals to serve campers? MAKE THEM BUY THEIR OWN FOOD AND EAT AT HOME while on home confinement! Why are we as taxpayers paying a unit manager to simply oversee the cleanliness of housing units where the BOP spends money to supply bedding, TV's, chairs, phones, lockers, email, microwaves, showers, soap, towels, toilets, and utilities (lighting, heating and air conditioning) for non-violent offenders? MAKE THEM PAY for their own housing, bedding and other living expenses? "This is nothing more than government-funded welfare," says Banks.

AJC has confirmed through numerous sources that Counselors, who may receive pay of $50,000 or more, do nothing more than issue visiting lists, assign jobs (slave labor averaging 12 cents per hour), do bed moves, prepare grievance paperwork and occasionally schedule legal calls. On home confinement, non-violent offenders can visit family at home, be scheduled out to go to work and pay taxes, sleep in their own beds and will decrease the BOP's administrative costs to process grievances.

Camp case managers primary goal is to prepare inmates for re-entry, which consists of recommending educational courses provided at the FPC. How effective are these courses when the few classes offered are set-up and taught by inmates? For instance, a job search class uses a 1980's era, pre-Internet book that is not relevant today. Case managers also coordinate halfway house time and set-up payment of court costs & restitution. No halfway house is needed with home-confinement and restitution can be sent directly to the courts. A source tells A Just Cause that only 52% is required to pass the GED test and 2 correctional officers oversee the education department. The Internet provides much better educational opportunities, from GED to college courses. At 12 cents per hour, no meaningful restitution payment can be made. However, the BOP forces families to pay restitution by withdrawing out of the account of the inmate from money families send to support their imprisoned love ones for using email (5 cents per minute), phone (21 cents per minute), printing legal research documents (15 cents per page) and commissary - a commissary which the BOP pays a correctional officer to run for sale of various food items, toiletries, clothes, over-the-counter medicine, radio/mp3 players, washing powder, etc. These items can be paid for by the camper at a grocery store instead of by the taxpayer. There is a laundry at the camp where linens and clothes are being washed for the campers. These campers can wash their own clothes at home! A correctional officer actually sorts and inspect hundreds of parcels of mail when mail could go directly to homes. Non-violent campers confined at home, who would require no re-entry preparation by a case manager, should work, pay taxes, pay restitution, support their families and get free, legitimate education from the Internet.

Why is the BOP paying an officer to monitor a camp visiting room of non-violent offenders where officers engage in the ridiculous behavior of playing the fashion police? At Florence, officers inspect clothing of visiting families and friends, prohibiting and sending visitors away for v-neck sweaters, watches, kids sweatpants, leggings, hoodies, and the tightness of women's jeans. Recently, when the outside temperature was about 30 degrees, a correctional officer made visitors, including children, return their hoodies to their car and forced them to walk to and from their car in the cold. At the end of visiting, visitors are prohibited from taking soft drinks or other food THEY PURCHASED from vending machines and told to put those items in the trash. Non-violent offenders are periodically stripped naked by correctional officers to ensure they don't have any petty contraband. "Why are we as taxpayers paying for this absurd, petty policing for non-violent offenders?" asks Banks.

"Federal prison camps are a total waste of taxpayer money and first-time non-violent offenders should be sent to home-confinement to allow for closure of some or all prison camps," says Banks. When home-confined, first-time non-violent offenders will pay a price and, best of all, pay their own way," adds Banks. Congress and the Trump Administration could reassign FPC staff to fill staffing shortages at higher security institutions and take a billion dollars or more out of the federal budget," concludes Banks.