Manchin Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Overhaul Federal Prison Oversight
Washington, DC— Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Federal Prison Oversight Act, bipartisan legislation that would create a new oversight structure to ensure transparency, safety, and accountability in federal correctional facilities.
“After serious reports of abuses, staff shortages, and dangerous conditions in federal facilities in West Virginia and across the country, it is time we bring much-needed transparency and oversight so we can improve the safety of people working for and incarcerated in the federal prison system,” said Senator Manchin. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that establishes an enforceable accountability mechanism to improve conditions for both staff and inmates. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense legislation to make necessary corrections to our federal prison system and bolster public safety.”
The legislation would require the DOJ’s Inspector General (IG) to inspect all 122 Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities by interviewing all interested parties and assessing policies, recidivism, and violence. The IG would then assign a risk score, with high-risk facilities subjected to additional inspections and recommendations. Within eighteen months, the IG will report findings to Congress and will monitor BOP’s implementation of recommendations.
The bill also creates a DOJ Ombudsman to confidentially obtain complaints from inmates, attorneys, families, and BOP staff. The Ombudsman can refer these complaints to other agencies, make policy recommendations and report findings to the Attorney General and Congress if the BOP does not respond to or act on recommendations.
Senator Manchin introduced this legislation with Senators Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Braun (R-IN). A House companion bill was introduced by Representatives Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND).
The bill is supported by public safety, prison union and civil rights organizations, including the Council of Prison Locals (CPL), Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Americans for Prosperity, Justice Action Network, Due Process Institute, Right on Crime, Niskanen Center, and Faith & Freedom Coalition.
The bill text can be found here.
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