Tax Dollars for Federal Prison Camps Are Extension of Welfare System
Denver, CO -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/28/2017 -- According to the February 8, 2017 Bloomberg Criminal Law Reporter (Vol. 100, no. 18, pg. 393), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Democrat John Conyers (D-MI) are ready to release criminal justice reform legislation but are waiting on a green light from the White House. A Just Cause is urging Congress and President Trump to close 76 federal prison camps and eliminate this wasteful extension of the welfare system that, according the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, houses, clothes, feeds and provides healthcare for nearly 22,000 non-violent offenders.
"Federal prison camps are considered "out-custody" facilities without fences or walls and A Just Cause questions the wisdom of the federal government wasting billions of tax dollars of welfare-style appropriations for non-violent able-bodied men at federal prison camps when home confinement with an ankle monitor can accomplish the same security and punitive objectives without the enormous financial and social costs. A Camp inmate presents no threat to society when they can simply walk away into the community in the same way they could walk away from their home. Most educational programs at camps benefit those who never graduated high-school. Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC's) and other Internet training programs on basic computing, typing, resume skills, etc., offer much better, free education options in home-confinement. Menial kitchen and janitorial jobs that campers perform at higher institutions can be contracted with a janitorial or corrections food service provider at a pittance of the cost of incarcerating campers. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has called out-of-control BOP costs a "persisting crisis" for a federal prison population that grew nearly 800% between 1980 and 2013. In his book, American Criminal Justice Policy, Professor Daniel Mears of Florida State University's College of Criminology and Criminal Justice states the entire U.S. prison population in 1980 was 319,598 in comparison to 2.2 million people today. Confining non-violent prison camp offenders at home is a common-sense measure that will drastically reduce costs. In April 2014, the Congressional Research Service found that "the federal prison system was 36% over capacity in FY 2013, but high and medium male facilities were operating at 52% and 45% respectively, over rated capacity. Confining campers at home will help solve over-capacity problems and enable the BOP to convert the infrastructure of a few camps to accommodate higher security offenders and alleviate overcrowding.
According to calculations put together by A Just Cause, using Florence, Colorado's federal prison camp as a model, the BOP is spending roughly $25 million dollars per year to incarcerate 500 non-violent offenders, which means taxpayers are spending a total of $1.1 billion on welfare for 22,000 non-violent offenders at 76 camps. A March 2016 Inspector General report, shows the BOP spent 1.1 billion dollars on healthcare costs in 2014 as part of a $6.8 billion-dollar annual budget. Healthcare is an unpredictable cost that is likely to grow. A law enforcement source who oversaw county jails for one of the nation's largest counties, tells A Just Cause that the DOJ pays about $100 per day, per federal offender, many of whom are non-violent white collar offenders, to be housed in their jails as they await trial or to be moved to a federal prison. Furthermore, billions of dollars pour into halfway house coffers to house offenders leaving prison who actually have homes to go to or law abiding, responsible family members who agree to provide housing and support AT NO COST TO THE TAXPAYER. A study found that offenders who are released from prison to their home or to family members have lower recidivism rates. Select federal offenders from higher security institutions who work their way down to camps for good behavior should not be sent to camps but to home confinement or possibly a halfway house which not only incentivizes offenders towards better behavior but serves as quasi-parole legislation.
In recent weeks President Trump received harsh backlash about America not being innocent or the moral equivalent of Russia when it comes to imprisoning or killing political dissidents. Regarding incarceration, America is not innocent and is morally deficient to Russia and every other nation when comes to imprisoning its citizens, many of whom are non-violent offenders who were totally unaware their conduct was or could be spun criminal by an ambitious prosecutor motivated by padding conviction numbers. It is widely reported and accepted that the United States is 5% of the world's population but accounts for 25% of the world's prison population at a cost of $80 billion per year. According to the Economist's 2013 world figures, the U.S. imprisoned 2,266,832 citizens, which is two-thirds more than Russia's prison population of 714,600. China, another communist country with over 1 billion people (over 700,000 more than the U.S.) imprisons 1,640,000 and Fordham University Professor John Pfaff reported in the January 28-29, 2017 Wall Street Journal that America's incarceration rate is 800% higher than Germany. On April 3, 2016, correspondent Bill Whitaker of the television show "Crime and Punishment", toured the German Prison system with Joerg Jesse, a psychologist and the Director of Prisons in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a state in north Germany where Germany spends less money on prisons but gets betters results, including lower recidivism, by not imprisoning non-violent offenders. "Prison is reserved for the worst of the worst -- murderers, rapists, career criminals," Jesse said. Better results come from not locking up non-violent offenders and rehabilitating and incentivizing violent offenders to show them a better approach to life and decision-making -- a concept foreign to a cruel, retributive U.S. justice system where incarceration-thirsty federal prosecutors and judges are celebrated by how many citizens they can imprison on long sentences. Case and point, the IRP6 federal criminal case in Colorado where, according to former federal appeals judge H. Lee Sarokin, six information technology executives were indicted and prosecuted for "failing to pay corporate debts", had their constitutional rights violated by the prosecutor, trial judge and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and received unduly harsh sentences of 7 to 11 years. (See judicial complaint and letter to U.S Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts at http://bit.ly/2ba9827 & http://bit.ly2b06Rpm).
America's prison model is Neolithic and expensive. American leaders should stop promoting it is as the best in the world and make it better. The reality is that over criminalization and vague federal criminal laws combined with ambitious, prison-thirsty prosecutors, passive, rubber-stamping judges, corporate profit motives and ungodly harsh, cruel sentencing has created a prison industrial complex that gives America the dubious distinction of being the incarceration nation. The government sponsored Federal Prison Industries (FPI) that uses pennies-per-hour prison labor to produce goods and services is a slavery-based business that is a product of the 13th Amendment's exception to use slavery for the purpose crime and punishment. It is an aberration that the U.S. government has institutionalized slavery through FPI and allows it to compete against private industry for government contracts. The abolishment of FPI and the 13th Amendment's slavery exception should be included as part of any new legislation proposed by the House Judiciary Committee. The United States just went crazy one day, started locking up its citizens and made big business out of incarceration-based slavery. America does not have the moral authority to criticize other nation's incarceration practices until it addresses its grave problems of mass incarceration.
A Just Cause will continue to push for the closure of wasteful, "out-custody" federal prison camps. President Trump has the power to issue an executive order to close camps and do more towards criminal justice reform than any other President in history. We ask you to review Judge Sarokin's writings on the IRP6 case at the links below and join with us by contacting your congressman or President Trump to not only get camps closed but also help get the charges dismissed against the IRP6. The IRP6 and their families shouldn't be another statistic of mass incarceration because of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct.
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