Bipartisan Congressional Legislation to Overhaul Federal Prison Oversight, Security Introduced  

By Frank Schulenburg – Own work
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By Caleigh Carlisle

WASHINGTON, DC ‒ U.S. Senator John Ossoff (D-GA) has announced he has introduced bipartisan legislation to “overhaul federal prison oversight and strengthen security at federal prisons” by establishing independent oversight for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Sen. Ossoff to introduce the Federal Prison Oversight Act. Companion bipartisan legislation was also introduced in the House by Representatives Lucy McBath (D-GA-07) and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND-AL).

According to the Washington Post, Sen. Ossoff previously led an investigation of abuse, corruption, and misconduct within federal prisons and uncovered “long-term failures that likely undermined public safety and civil rights; contributed to loss of life; and jeopardized the health and safety of incarcerated people and staff.”

Sen. Ossoff said in a statement, “My bipartisan investigations… revealed an urgent need to overhaul Federal prison oversight.”

According to Ossoff, the bill requires the Department of Justice’s Inspector General to “conduct comprehensive, risk-based inspections of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) 122 correctional facilities.”

This includes providing recommendations to resolve issues, as well as assigning each facility a risk score. Facilities with high risk scores would be required to be inspected more often.

If the bill is approved and signed, it would be compulsory for the Inspector General to report its findings to Congress and the public – the BOP would be required to respond to “all inspection reports within 60 days with a corrective action plan,” explained the lawmaker.

The bipartisan bill would establish an independent Ombudsman to, as Ossoff points out, would investigate the “health, safety, welfare, and rights of incarcerated people and staff.” His press statement said the Ombudsman would also create a secure hotline for people to submit complaints and inquiries concerning the federal prison system.

Chair Durbin said, “Today’s bill is the latest step… to improve oversight and fulfill one of the fundamental purposes of the prison system: to provide safe and humane conditions of confinement and ensure the successful return of incarcerated individuals to the community.”

“Our federal prisons must serve as institutions that rehabilitate and prepare Americans for reentry into society, and that cannot happen without putting meaningful accountability measures in place,” Rep.  McBath said.

According to the press release about the measure, the bipartisan bill is supported by a multitude of public safety, prison union, and civil rights organizations, such as the Council of Prison Locals (CPL), Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Right on Crime, and many more.

Lars Trautman, the National Director of Right on Crime, said, “The Federal Prison Oversight Act is a balanced approach to increasing much-needed oversight and accountability at the Bureau of Prisons that would help improve conditions for incarcerated individuals and staff alike.”

About The Author

Caleigh is a junior at Davis Senior High School. She enjoys playing her violin and learning different languages. Caleigh is currently exploring an interest in journalism and social justice.

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