Senate creates a group to study the US prison system
WASHINGTON (AP), -- The U.S. Senate has established a bipartisan group of legislators to examine conditions in the Bureau of Prisons. This is following reports by The Associated Press, which revealed widespread corruption and abuse within federal prisons.
This working group is being headed by Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.). It aims to develop policies and proposals that will strengthen oversight of the federal prison system, improve communication between Congress and the Bureau of Prisons, and improve oversight of the system.
This group will examine conditions in America's 122 federal prisons and protect human rights while promoting transparency. The group will also include Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In recent years, the federal prison system has been plagued with a variety of crises. These include widespread criminal activity among staff, systemic sexual abuse at a federal woman's prison in California, low staffing levels that have hindered emergency responses, rapid spread of COVID-19, an ineffective response to the pandemic, and many escapes. Late last month, two federal prisoners were killed in a gang fight at a Texas federal penitentiary. This led to a nationwide lockdown. Although the Justice Department has posted advertisements on LinkedIn for a new director, it has not yet found one.
Ossoff stated that America's prisons and jails were "horribly dysfunctional" and are often places where crime and brutality are common. Ossoff made the statement to the AP Thursday. "The Senate Bipartisan Prison Policy Working Group (Ossoff, Braun, and several other legislators, including Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky, will identify and advance solutions." Ossoff, Braun, and other lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require that the Senate confirm the Bureau of Prisons director. This is similar to the case for nearly all other federal agencies.
Durbin stated that the group was essential to help us reach our goal of creating safer conditions at correctional facilities. He also said that the three were "committed to working together on a bipartisan basis in order to improve conditions and safety and strengthen transparency and communication, and reduce recidivism within our federal prison system."
Ossoff's legislation to require federal prisons upgrade and repair security systems including surveillance cameras, was passed by the Senate. Federal prisons' failing security cameras have allowed inmates to escape unnoticed and were at the center of an investigation when Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy financier, killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial for sexual abuse charges against him.