No surprise here. tRump is a disaster for the criminal justice system!
Excerpts from the Article:
On Wednesday at FCI Sandstone, a low-security federal prison in Minnesota, inmates were preparing for a congressional hearing. They couldn’t fly to Washington, of course, but they’d voted to add C-SPAN to the facility’s short list of authorized television channels. They planned to watch politicians grill the Trump administration’s new Bureau of Prisons chief about recent cuts to reentry programs.
The men wanted answers. In recent months, many had been told they were losing some or all of the time they’d been promised at the halfway houses where they were supposed to finish up their sentences, look for jobs, and get their feet back on the ground. Their families were upset, too: Now their loved ones would stay in prison longer and miss the winter holidays they’d hoped to celebrate together.
“The impact is widespread…We’re talking thousands of inmates probably whose dates are being pushed back.” “This completely changed my release plan,” Nathaniel Augustus III Smith, one of the inmates at FCI Sandstone, told me in an email. He’d been looking forward to reuniting with family members in Texas in October. “Of the people I personally know that had halfway house dates, only one still retains his original date,” writes another prisoner, Timothy John Ehrmann, who has been preparing to leave for a halfway house ever since President Barack Obama commuted his sentence last year. “I can’t imagine what this is like systemwide.”
The BOP has slashed funding for social service coordinators: “They took away the person that was going to welcome [prisoners] home, basically.”
The problem appears to go deeper than Inch admitted on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Prisons has told halfway house operators that they’ll no longer receive funding for cognitive behavioral the In addition to not renewing at least 16 contracts, the Bureau of Prisons has changed the rules for many other halfway houses, requiring them to host fewer inmates. That’s according to Anne Connell-Freund, the former president of the International Community Corrections Association, a trade organization composed of halfway house operators. As waitlists for beds grow, some inmates are being held longer in already overcrowded prisons—federal lockups were at 14 percent overcapacity during the last fiscal year, per Justice Department statistics.rapy (a requirement under the Obama administration) or to hire social services coordinators who help people line up jobs and housing, get driver’s licenses, and learn how to use cellphones and other technologies they missed in prison. “They took away the person that was going to welcome them home, basically,” says Connell-Freund. “It’s not exactly known how many halfway houses and how many beds have been affected.”
“We believe that these changes in programming and personnel will compromise public safety,” eight senators wrote. Because the contract changes resulted in fewer available beds, the Bureau of Prisons has been cutting the amount of time prisoners can stay at the halfway houses—maybe a few months instead of half a year, Connell-Freund says. For some people, she notes, that’s not enough time to find a decent job, reunite with families, and complete drug treatment or other programs that can help keep them off the streets and out of trouble.
In October, eight senators wrote to Inch to express concern. “We believe that these changes in programming and personnel will compromise public safety, decrease inmate accountability, and lead to increased recidivism rates,” they wrote. “These changes…threaten to make our communities less safe while increasing BOP operating costs over time,” since it’s more expensive to hold someone in prison than in a halfway house.
“Trying to get the information out of the Federal Bureau of Prisons is very, very, very difficult…Requests just go into a black hole.” Cummings said reentry programs in his Maryland district have struggled under Trump. The halfway house for federal inmates in Baltimore “is the largest such facility on the East Coast,” he said, “but the occupancy has fallen sharply due to recent BOP cuts.” The facility—which is not on the list of 16 —”was given essentially no notice to prepare for these cuts. Now this facility is struggling to meet its costs.” Inch reiterated that he had no intention to scale back halfway houses, but claimed the Baltimore facility had “overbuilt capacity.” He said it would be inappropriate to get into the weeds of contracting at the hearing, but that he’d swing by Cummings’ office later to “really talk.”
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