Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The State of the BOP

This morning I read an email from Fed-CURE's elist. Kenny Linn posted the transcript of a hearing held in July, 2008—an appropriations hearing on the fiscal year 2009 Federal Prison budget request, shortages in the budget for 2008 and other matters. After reading the transcript, it was as Kenny Linn, promised -- a great read. We've posted the transcript here, and will provide a link to the government website that hosts this public information is found.

We need a system of earned, early release -- called parole, and/or increase of good time -- and won't have one until a citizen force has support of leaders in Congress. That was on my mind as I read the transcript linked above. I hope it will be on your mind, and you'll download and send it to your imprisoned loved one, or donate to our organization because people in prison with no one left on the outside, ask us to send them copies of important documents. The documents find their way to law libraries. Other prisoners direct their family members to the information online, and public education increases, along with pressure on leaders that can change sentencing law. Without your support, we can't serve as liaison between the public, our leaders and the millions of people that have found themselves incarcerated under our nation's dubious 'drug laws.' Now, back to this interesting hearing...

During questioning about whether or not prisoners receiving sentencing reductions due to the crack cocaine law changes were getting drug treatment before release, Representative Mollohan said, "And I am totally in favor of more sympathetic treatment to people who are in jail because of drug use offenses." Progress, yes, but when will republican and democrats alike ask why the federal government is in the business of jailing drug use offenders? Alan Mollohan is a democrat, represents West Virginia and has been in Congress since 1983.

Republican Representative Hal Rogers, hails from Kentucky's 5th district and a member of the House Appropriations Committee since 1982, and chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary since 1995. In short, another key person when it comes to funding US punishment policy.

Overcrowded Prisons

Mr. Rogers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Director, welcome to you and to all your staff. I have been told that you are 37 percent overcrowded. Is that an accurate figure?

Mr. Lappin. We are 37 percent over rated capacity.

Mr. Rogers. Over what?

Mr. Lappin. Over rated capacity.

Mr. Rogers. Do you mind if I call that overcrowded?

Mr. Lappin. Okay.

Mr. Rogers. What would be your target?

Mr. Lappin. 15 to 17 percent. That is our target.

Mr. Rogers. Over your rated capacity?

Mr. Lappin. And so, let me kind of put it in perspective.

What does that mean? What does 17 percent mean over rated capacity? That means that every cell in the entire Bureau of Prisons has two inmates in it, and we believe in that goal. It may be a long term goal, there is no way we are going to get there overnight, but our goal would be that we get to the point where cells that were built of a certain size, which is a standard size--you have got a couple new prisons in Kentucky, they are a standard size--for a cell of that size it is appropriate for two inmates to be housed in those cells long term. At 17 percent, every cell in the Bureau of Prisons would have two inmates in those cells.

Now realize there are some inmates that cannot be housed with anyone. So for those that require single cells, it is going to push into other cells three inmates. We are okay with that. There are certain inmates that we could temporarily house in that manner. Our target is 17 percent. Mr. Rogers. Well, if you are 37 percent over now and you want to be at 17 percent, that is a 20 percent difference.

Two person, three person cells? I wondered if Mr. Rogers and Mollohan and Frelinghuysen knew about the 'dorms'. Do our leaders know that thousands of federal prisoners are being warehoused like this?

I ask the question because Rep. Frelinghuysen asked Director Lappin if people released under changes in crack-cocaine sentencing were going to be monitored. Lappin explained supervised release. Why didn't Director Lappin just hold one of these big blow-up pictures of the dorms in federal prisons? In the camps, dorms like these are the norm. What if Congressional funders knew what a human warehouse looked like?

Harley Lappin warns that federal prisoners will likely have to be housed further from home, and that they expect growth of 5,000 to 7,000 federal prisoners each year over the next several years. In 1997 the ratio of guard to prisoner was 3.57, today mostly due to budget shortages and difficulties hiring, the ratio is 4.92 inmates to 'every employee.' The states have a 3.33 ratio.

The litany of horrors of this testimony is nothing new, but the federal bureau of prisons appears to have reached a new crisis and due to funding shortages there will be slow activation of a new federal prison in Louisiana -- FCI Pollock.

Race, age and offenses

Mr. Lappin. Let me give you an idea. About 56 percent of the federal inmate population is white, 40 percent is black, 1.7 percent Asian, 1.8 percent Indian. Of that it is 31 percent Hispanic, so a combination of some folks who are African American, black, Hispanic. Age has really not fluctuated much.

You know, we are around a thirty-five average age.

Mr. Frelinghuysen. Thirty-five years of age?

Mr. Lappin. I think that is what it is. It is pretty close to that. What has changed, though, the characteristics that have changed are--let me back up to types of offenses. We continue to see the majority of the offenders coming in for drug related offenses. About 52 percent to 53 percent of the offenses are drug related. And then followed by weapons at about 14 percent.

Mr. Frelinghuysen. That drug related figure is a pretty----

Mr. Lappin. I am sorry?

Mr. Frelinghuysen. That drug related is a pretty----

Mr. Lappin. 53.9 percent drug related.

Mr. Frelinghuysen. And that is, let us say ten years ago that might have been considerably lower, or?

Mr. Lappin. Well, that was probably in the middle of the whole War on Drugs. That is when we were ramping up, getting a lot of folks. But you know, if you go back fifteen years, it is much larger. We have seen a significant increase in weapons. Offenders coming into us with weapons violations, that is up to 14 percent followed by immigration.

I would like to have know what Representative Frelinghuysen, was going to say beyond, "That drug related figure is a pretty----." Lappin cut him off, twice in fact. Republican Rodney P. Frelinghuysen is serving in his seventh term as the Representative for New Jersey's 11th Congressional District and a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Members of Congress want to explore and discuss, drug policy, federal policing and sentencing. It's clear to me. They get cut-off, and the witnesses confuse them, aren't talking straight and honest about problems that are very massive, expensive and can result in more, not less social destruction.

Other key subjects of the hearing included under staffing, the prison chaplain library 'project', recidivism, Stun or Lethal Fences, the crack sentencing amendment, counterterrorism work in federal prisons, drug treatment programs, inmate medical care, federalized sex crime, programs to reduce recidivism, health care costs, gangs and terrorism, contraband and staff searches, terrorists, non-US Citizen Inmates with an eye to the possible early release for purposes of deportation, Tele-Health, and Reimbursable agreement with BICE (a private corporation that owns prisons that hold non-citizens called long-term 'detainees' not inmates).

Advocates for federal prisoners, detainees and journalists covering over-reliance on incarceration, mandatory minimum sentencing, and recent US Sentencing controversies will find the transcript of this hearing important reading.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a very simple request, quit putting our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, yes even grandparents in jail.
To feed the 100 billion dollar machine they (our so called leaders) consider sacrificing us as the cost of doing business. Reminds me of slavery except that it effects all races not just the black race. Although 1 in 3 blacks will be jailed due the this war on the American people
I feel our so-called leaders should be put in jail. For waging this war on the American people and our free way of life. Originally for racist reasons and now for personal gain by our representatives!!
I feel in 100 years people will look back and view this era as our leaders enslaving us for pure greed. Name one other thing that keeps this war going? Drugs still flow people want them and as Americans we will have them. The cost keeps going up on the fight and the supply side. Good people are put in jail to be molested and raped by the real bad guys. So the only people that are happy are the corporations that make money off the way it is. Also the PAC’s that feed our leaders a regular supply of reelection money. In my mind they are committing a crime against the American People, God Help Us.

October 8, 2008 4:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You can go to a doctor he can prescribe an opium derivative or a synthetic heroin they even have a THC pills. So why are some drugs illegal and some are legal. Even the most unsophisticated individual should be able to see the War on Drugs is a scam. It is a way to take 100 billion of your money plus the 50 billion lost in tax revenue and blow it. If you are on the receiving end (our representatives Senate/House) you get rich. The most important thing to me is the estimated 2,000,000 (that’s Two Million and growing every day) of our fellow American citizens in jail. They are non-violent marijuana users responsible free Americans with rights! They are your sons, daughters, parents and even grand parents. They are having homes taken away from third generation owners. They are the old man down the street that everyone likes jailed. They are college students having their futures ruined. They are mothers having their children taken away. They are sick people being deprived of a medicine that works for them. They are disabled people having their Medicare benefits taken away. They are mothers kicked out of public housing and made homeless. They are good young people with no record being raped and even killed in jail. They come out changed scarred for life with distrust for our system and fear for there so-called protectors. They are one in every three blacks. They are mainly the poor and powerless that can be discarded by our so-called leaders (Senate/House)! For what? Growing a weed that helps people, makes them feel better or just to get a buzz and relax in our hectic world (much like drinking a few legal beers without the health hazards of liquor). It is there God given right as Free Americans and they will not conform to a law that is wrong and based on lies started for pure racism in the 30s !!!
While the fat cats go to the doctor and get OxyContin (opium derived), which is much stronger and more addictive than opium ever dreamed of being ask Rush (Yet legal). Millions take the so-called legal drugs every year (legal = owned by major drug company and producing 1000% profits to them). Between liquor and so-called legal drugs 600,000 die every year. So why, when people VOTE and make marijuana legal, doctors in 12 states prescribe it. The FEDS STILL (emphasis on STILL) under the direction of our so called leaders (Senate/House) go in and arrest the doctor, his patients, the guy selling the weed, the guy renting the building to the guy selling the weed, even the one in the car with a person selling the weed even if they do not know about it and sending them all to jail? Without a fair trial they are not allowed by the federal judges to present the truth to defend them that is why they have a 99% conviction rate! With mandatory federal minimum sentences they do hard time with long sentences at 45K a year per person. (Ask why here) WHY YOU ASK?
It is all for pure simple greed period end of story!!
Corporations and others that do not want weed legal because it would cost them $$$$$:
Major pharmaceutical companies = estimates are as high as 80% loss. Billions in profits if marijuana were make legal. (It cures many common ailments maybe yours depression, insomnia, cramps, chronic pain, migraines, and many others!) With no side effects you cannot even overdose with weed it is impossible.
Drug Czar DEA = They would lose there jobs we save 20 billion of our $$$$$ so do not expect them to tell the truth about this war they will say anything you suckers will believe to keep the war, there job, going! And the money and power that goes with it.
Liquor industry = estimates are as high as a 40% market loss billions.
Private Jail industry = Total loss they would have to close we would save billions and quit putting our neighbors in jail and ruining there lives (even if they are poor or of color they are still fellow Americans with rights like the right of free choice!! How about life liberty and the pursuit of happiness? (To me the war is illegal and strips us of our rights as free Americans)
Drug Testing industry = Loss 44,000,000 a year
Our Representatives (Senate/House) = They would lose millions contributed to them through PACs every year from the corporations above. So don’t expect much in the way of truth, compassion or facts from these guys they have been lying to us for decades and taking the money to the bank in big sacks. Or they sell a house for $700,000.00 more than it’s worth to a needy constituent (not the poor kind one needing a favorable vote).
They would all lose money and will lie, steal and enslave millions to stop Free Americans from having access to a weed that hurts no one, any one can grow, helps millions ever day and they cannot find a way to profit from. Simple isn’t it?
One other point the right wing folks keep throwing up, “Making drugs legal would send the wrong message to the youth of our country.” I have heard that one a million times standard scare tactics they use. Today the youth of American are being drug tested in schools, arrested for a joint and having there lives ruined due to an arrest record, put in jail and being raped, killed and warped. Not to mention the distrust for any authority figure, they know its lies they smoke the stuff (like we use to get an old guy to buy us beer). I say they would be better off if we legalized and regulated drugs (Against the law to sell or give to minors like beer!) Illegal drugs will be sold to anyone with the money its already illegal so who cares, idiot!

By the way we need your help open the window shout, “STOP THE WAR ON US.”
Save billions return respect for our rights show our representatives who runs this country! It is us the 75% that say you have had your fun with your war enslaving us it’s our turn!

October 8, 2008 4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Bob Mare I have a new rule.
Free Americans taught the Bill of Rights and the Constitution in school if you paid attention you may be able to relate to the following.
Our representatives are sworn to represent us is this correct? We are the 75% of free Americans that say end the War on U.S. (drugs) let the marijuana people live in peace. Free the millions you have jailed based on the lies behind this War. We will give you six months or we the 75% will band together and prosecute you for not doing as sworn!

October 8, 2008 4:44 AM  

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