Fred Keller

03/03/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/03/2021 10:59

BOP Reform Caucus, local stakeholders highlight need for greater accountability within America’s federal prison system

March 3, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - A week after reintroducing the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Reform Caucus in the 117th Congress, Chair Rep. Fred Keller (PA-12), 10 other caucus members, and local prison stakeholders released the following statements on the importance of the caucus and the work ahead to bring needed operational changes to the BOP:

BOP Reform Caucus Chair, Rep. Fred Keller (PA-12):

'I am proud to lead this bipartisan caucus in the 117th Congress and continue to build on our work to bring needed reforms to the Bureau of Prisons, advocate for the men and women who operate and secure our federal prisons every day, and keep our communities safe. This pandemic has brought to light many failures in the BOP's operations, including detrimental inmate transfer policies, staffing shortages, and agency retention issues. The various backgrounds and experiences of the members of this caucus will enable us to better tackle these issues on behalf of the American people.'

Rep. Mike Bost (IL-12):

'Now more than ever, it is critical that we work to ensure our correctional officers have the resources and support they need to do their jobs safely and effectively. I look forward to continuing our work to address these concerns and bring about meaningful reforms to the BOP.'

Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD (IN-08):

'I am proud to rejoin the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Reform Caucus for the 117th Congress. After representing Indiana's 8th Congressional District which houses the Federal Correction Complex, Terre Haute for over a decade, I know the many challenges facing the hardworking Hoosiers that work at these facilities. Some of the challenges include agency-wide reductions in staffing, a lack of transparency and accountability in BOP operations and operating in outdated facilities that make complying with COVID-19 protocols dangerous to staff and prisoners alike. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the BOP Reform Caucus to address these critical challenges and to continue supporting the men and women that help keep us safe.'

Rep. Glenn Grothman (WI-06):

'I have toured the Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, WI, which is part of the Bureau of Prisons, a few times and many of its employees live in my district. I enjoy speaking with the employees and I often receive feedback on ways the operations can be improved and redundancies that would save employees both time and money if eliminated. These hard-working correctional officers do a great job and know the prison system. If they have an idea on how to improve their workplace, it is my duty as their representative in Washington to follow up on it. I look forward to working with Congressman Keller and the bipartisan Bureau of Prison Reform Caucus to find solutions on how to improve the Bureau of Prisons.'

Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson (PA-15):

'I'm proud to be an original member of the Bureau of Prison Reform Caucus to bolster transparency, accountability, and most importantly, the safety of corrections officers and inmates alike. Now more than ever, the work of the Caucus is needed to address the impact COVID-19 has had on our prison systems and how to mitigate these sorts of health crises in the future.'

Rep. Andy Kim (NJ-03):

'This caucus right now is more important than ever as we continue to see the COVID-19 pandemic hit our BOP facility hard. The impact the pandemic has had on the people in our community who serve at these facilities, and the inmates housed there, requires the kind of diligent oversight this caucus provides. I look forward to continuing my work with my bipartisan colleagues to make real changes to the BOP system.'

Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21):

'The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is a massive government agency that badly needs reform, greater accountability, and more transparency. As the representative of thousands of correctional officers in my district, I am proud to advocate on their behalf and join my fellow colleagues in the Bureau of Prisons Reform Congressional Caucus in providing Congressional oversight over the BOP to do just that.'

Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13):

'Tens of thousands of corrections officers in the Federal Bureau of Prisons show up to work every day and do their part to make our criminal justice system work and keep our communities safe. Given the large size of the agency and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected federal correctional facilities, the Bureau is in need of additional Congressional oversight to keep both the employees, their families, and inmates safe. I look forward to working with the bipartisan group of lawmakers in the BOP Reform Caucus to ensure the essential workers in the Bureau have the tools and resources they need to safely do their jobs.'

Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08):

'I look forward to continuing our work together on this bipartisan BOP Reform Caucus. As the Appropriations subcommittee chair that funds the federal prison system and as a member of this group, I am committed to improving operations at BOP in order to ensure the health, safety and security of staff and inmates at corrections facilities across the country, including USP Canaan in Northeastern Pennsylvania.'

Rep. Pete Stauber (MN-08):

'As a former law enforcement officer, I know how important it is to ensure our corrections officers have the resources necessary to safely and effectively perform their jobs. That's why I am proud to serve on the BOP reform caucus in the 117th Congress and continue fighting for the heroes who work every day in federal prisons across the nation.'

Rep. Randy Weber (TX-14):

'TX-14 is home to the Beaumont Federal Correctional Complex (FCC Beaumont). Through the pandemic, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events that have occurred, the inmates and staff at FCC Beaumont have endured a lot. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has needed - and continues to need - to step up to support staff in the wake of these events that have stretched the workforce so thin. These men and women working at FCC Beaumont must be compensated and treated fairly for their work, and the inmates housed at the complex must be ensured their rights under law. I am excited to work with the BOP reform caucus to institute real, meaningful change this Congress.'

Shane Fausey, National President, Council of Prison Locals:

'The reintroduction of the BOP Reform Caucus could not have come at a more defining moment in the history of the Bureau of Prisons. Whatever events that have led this agency into the staffing crisis we are currently in are secondary to fixing the major issues hindering the success of our agency. I truly believe with a collaborative effort of the BOP Reform Caucus, the National Council of Prison Locals, and the Bureau of Prisons leadership, ultimately, can result in adequate staffing, proper funding, and sufficient resources to ensure that we continue to protect our communities, properly prepare offenders for reintegration into society, and protect and support our Federal Correctional Law Enforcement professionals.'

A.E. Kline, Local 148 President, USP Lewisburg:

'On behalf of all the staff at USP Lewisburg, we are very thankful for the BOP Reform Caucus and to finally have much needed oversight of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and their budget. For years now the BOP staff have been asked to constantly do more and more with less and less but the Agency budget always continues to climb year to year. This Reform Caucus could not have come at a better time and it is our sincere hope that it brings a brighter and, most importantly, safer future for all BOP staff.'

Background:

In February, The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its 2021 report entitled, 'Opportunities Exist to Better Analyze Staffing Data and Improve Employee Wellness Programs.' The findings from this report showed clear inconsistencies within the BOP's data collection systems and an inability to use this data to improve agency policies and operations. Specifically, the report outlined flaws with BOP's staffing methodology, its plan for identifying staffing shortages, and agency retention issues.

The GAO report-paired with the BOP's negligent inmate transfer policies throughout the pandemic is a clear indication of the need for the BOP Reform Caucus in the new session.

Members of the BOP Reform Caucus include Congressman Glenn 'GT' Thompson (PA-15), Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13), Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03), Congressman Mike Bost (IL-12), Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08), Congressman Larry Bucshon (IN-08), Congressman Glenn Grothman (WI-06), and Congressman Randy Weber (TX-14).

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