Friday, July 17, 2015

"Shovel Ready" Ways To Reduce Costs Of Federal Incarceration

...According to my good friend and retired 23-year veteran of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Jack Donson, the ability to reduce the prison population and reform correctional practices by legislation is only part of the solution.  In fact, many reforms can be accomplished by simply using the existing BOP policies.

Donson, who addressed the Charles Colson Task Force For Federal Corrections in May 2015, was one of many who spoke on solutions for prison reform.  Donson, now a prison consultant and (full disclosure) adviser on my own project, Prisonology, has what he calls, “Shovel Ready” policies that could help achieve the goals envisioned by political leaders.  Here are some ideas for the majority of federal inmates who are non-violent (primarily drug) offenders:

Send Home The Old And Sick – We have an aging population in prison just as we do in society.  Compassionate Releases for elderly and those with terminal illnesses are rare according to groups like Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).   According to FAMM, fewer than 12 cases each year are even sent to the federal courts for review by the BOP.  Rather than set them free, the BOP cares for them at their own medical facilities that have capabilities to treat inmates with diseases ranging from cancer, to diabetes, to liver disease, to hospice care.  Like medical care on the outside, it is expensive on the inside as well.  Although the BOP policy on compassionate release was expanded in 2013, it has not taken advantage of its potential and releases under the program are still few.
Expand Drug Treatment Programs – The BOP has a Residential Drug Abuse Treatment program that can offer inmates up to a year off of their prison term.  The program provides structure for inmates and teaches lessons that extend beyond the inmates’ time in prison.  The time reduction is an incentive granted by the BOP to inmates who qualify and complete the program.  However, some inmates are excluded because of what is referred to as “Director’s Discretion,” which is an additional restriction that too often excludes qualified candidates from participatng in the program.


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