Bureau of Prisons Facing Increased Demand, Decreased Funding

Under President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal, the federal prison system will face a cut of 1,000 employees, despite an increased administration focus on policies likely to increase incarceration rates.

Despite appeals on Capitol Hill by the director of the Bureau of Prisons, who maintains that a prisoner to staff ratio of four-to-one is unsafe, the Trump budget would exacerbate the ratio: five prisoners for every one staff.

As noted by the Federal Times’ Jessie Bur, this is especially relevant in light of the administration’s support for strict mandatory minimum laws, noting that prison populations “are expected to increase under the Trump administration, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has particularly focused on seeking the maximum sentencing for drug-related charges.”

However, Bur notes, the budget proposal relies on an assumption that prison populations will decrease:

“The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is responsive to federal efforts to fight violent crime and prosecute high priority offenders. Recent declines in the prison population coupled with the continuation of contracts with privately-operated facilities ensure that BOP has the necessary space to absorb population fluctuations. The budget maintains this capacity by funding BOP at $7.1 billion, approximately equal to the 2017 enacted level. In addition, the budget proposes to leverage economies of scale by closing two standalone minimum-security camps and instead transferring inmates to larger federal complexes. The budget also proposes to realign regional offices to eliminate duplication and reduce bureaucracy.”

According to Eric Young of the American Federation of Government Employees, the actual ratio is even bleaker than the statistics indicate.

 “The Bureau of Prisons characterized everyone as correctional officers first as a guise and a ruse to hide the real inmate-to-staff ratio,” said Young. “In order for the agency to get to that ratio, they are actually including non-custodial staff that don’t even work in that prison. For example, the regional offices, the central offices, the staff at the training academies. They’re including that as a guise.”

Posted in General News

Tags: prison, bureau of prisons

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