Two for Tuesday and the Quote of the Day

The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy. ~Woodrow Wilson

Anyone who knows me understands I am not a fan of the prison reform bills circulating in Congress. I’m probably a bit tainted from decades of watching organizations and politicians benefit from bills which are not only poorly, written, but have no chance of even being voted out of committee. The flavor of the week (and for the past several weeks) is the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. Yesterday Dick Durbin said lawmakers are “negotiating” changes to this bill to win more support. Interpretation: This bill is being further watered down to appease conservative special interests. What ever happened to the chatter about the Smarter Sentencing Act and The Reauthorization of the Second Chance Act? maybe that will be next week!

I’m distrustful of the belt-way NGO Mafia and the inquisitive side of me would love to know how much soft money is pouring in to candidates and organizations from the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) to simply maintain the status quo.

Think about this. If the PIC would pour tens of millions of dollars into candidates and lobbying efforts when prisons were extremely crowded, they must be in panic mode as that trend seems to be reversing? I would think the 10K Reports of The GEO Group and CCA would be a bit telling.  Question: What happens to a company’s share price when future earnings estimates are adjusted downward?

As disturbing as it is to think about resources being expended to stifle reform, it’s equally disturbing to see the PIC pivoting to deliver correctional treatment and re-entry services. Something flying under the radar is the seeds are also being planted in federal legislation to open up program funding to other than state and local government entities. I’m no big fan of government but the responsibility of correctional treatment and re-entry should remain a government responsibility within the infrastructure. After all, we are spending over 6 Billion Dollars annually on our prison system.

Not enough focus is being placed on the true impediments of criminal justice reform and the farming out of law enforcement and treatment functions to the private sector. As this presidential cycle evolves, there is a good chance the reform issue will be punted to the next administration. Ted Cruz is allegedly against the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act and Marko Rubio is said to have ties to The GEO Group who have a considerable amount of privatized facilities in the state of Florida. To be honest, punting reform may be the best course of action given the shortfalls of what is circulating in congress.

The second issue is the recent focus on Solitary Confinement. I had to scratch my head when I heard the president banned solitary confinement for juveniles. Having retired from the Federal Prison system I am aware the Federal government does not house juveniles. It’s also a head scratcher when the term “solitary confinement” is thrown about. First, I am totally opposed to Solitary Confinement and feel it is only necessary in the most extreme cases. The other side of that coin is the Federal government doesn’t practice widespread “solitary confinement” aside from the Florence ADX which is actually a smaller number than one may think from the population statistics on the website. In an attempt to clear up the Federal use of what the government now coins as “Restrictive Housing”, I wrote a brief White paper in 2014, which can be accessed at the below link:

https://nebula.wsimg.com/633b8c7639e57a5d30e415bf47b120c0?AccessKeyId=7953EA99513FB8D3416B&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

No reform for Christmas

As we wind down the year, I am posting my March Testimony in DC before the Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections. As I reflect on the hype from the pundits, money thrown at the Beltway Lobbyists and NGO Mafia by naïve Billionaires; I can only hope the reform movers and shakers will soon realize many positive reforms can be accomplished simply with leadership within the current law and BOP policy.  My fear still looms that by “compromise legislation” we will squander out prefect opportunity for reform. It’s time for the President to pressure the DOJ to think outside the box to accomplish the reforms referenced below:

TESTIMONY:

”  I appreciate this opportunity to provide the Colson Commission with practical, “shovel ready” reforms. I will also comment on current correctional treatment practices and pending legislation if my 4 minutes permit.

My perspective is from both sides of the fence having worked directly with the incarcerated in classification, programs and re-entry, having audited BOP facilities, policy writing and training case management staff. Since my retirement from the BOP in 2011, I have continued to work with the incarcerated, their families and attorneys throughout the country as an advocate.

I believe I have a pulse on the agency policy and culture yet occupy a neutral position as both a retiree and reformer. I am not here to criticize nor defend the BOP. I simply have a passion for Federal prison reform. The most important thing I can communicate is the BOP has good correctional policies but there must be a broader interpretation to maximize its potential under the existing framework.

Our country has failed as evidenced by the high rate of recidivism, demographic makeup of our prison population and lifetime “collateral consequences” of a felony conviction.

Before I found out I had 4 minutes to speak, I had typed 20 plus pages of testimony which I eventually condensed to 8 but even that doubled the amount of time allocated. I could talk to this commission for 40 minutes so, I am simply going to cut to the chase.

1) Population Reduction recommendation: Something that can be implemented immediately is regarding various Reduction in Sentence initiatives, (RIS) contained in PS # 5050.49, Compassionate Release. The BOP is NOT crediting Good Conduct Time (GCT) towards program eligibility for RIS initiatives. It is my opinion; the agency has the statutory authority to credit GCT under the law, specifically 18 USC 3624:

“(b) Credit Toward Service of Sentence for Satisfactory Behavior.—

 

  1. Subject to paragraph (2), a prisoner who is serving a term of imprisonment of more than 1 year  [1] other than a term of imprisonment for the duration of the prisoner’s life, may receive credit toward the service of the prisoner’s sentence, beyond the time served, of up to 54 days at the end of each year of the prisoner’s term of imprisonment, beginning at the end of the first year of the term, subject to determination by the Bureau of Prisons that, during that year, the prisoner has displayed exemplary compliance with institutional disciplinary regulations.

This discretion should be used for ALL RIS incentives especially “Elderly Offenders” who by some estimates cost the government upwards of $56,000 yearly for medical center placement. The crediting of earned good conduct time would result in substantial cost savings and crowding while not jeopardizing public safety as a BOP threat assessment is conducted prior to program approval.

2 Population Reduction recommendation: The BOP/DOJ has never used the authority in 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(4)(B), which authorizes the Attorney General to transfer custody of non-citizen prisoners convicted of certain non-violent offenses to ICE for repatriation before the end of their sentences.   While a number of states have availed themselves of this authority to reduce populations of non-citizen prisoners, no regulations have been issued by the Justice Department to implement this program since its enactment as part of AEDPA in 1996.

3 Population Reduction recommendation: Review and change the “Director’s Discretion” exclusions under BOP Policy 5331.02, Early Release Provisions which prohibit early release under 3621 (e). There is no need for the BOP to be any more restrictive in granting early release than what is written in the law and this policy even allows certain Misdemeanor offenders to be denied early release.

4 Rehabilitation and employment Programs recommendation: The next recommendation is I ask you review the BOP policy 5353.01, Occupational Educational Programs and strongly encourage this commission to study what progress the agency has made in regards to Page 5, paragraph c. as well as set mandates or institutional quotas to expand the use and involvement of the programs referenced in this directive. When I was hired by the BOP in 1988, there were College and Vocational (VT) apprenticeship programs through the DOL. The reduction in line staffing levels by increased caseloads has presented roadblocks for staff to assist with educational and vocational programs within this directive.

5 Staffing recommendation: The BOP should re-allocate some of their 39,000 plus positions and increase staffing at the institutional level. Although the BOP is the largest correctional agency in the country, approximately 209, 000 as of (3/05/15), it holds only slightly more offenders than the state of Texas (168,000) (BJS-2013), yet it maintains 6 Regional offices, the DSCC, various training centers, and a Central Office with 10 Divisions. An independent entity should study the administrative staffing levels and need for regional offices and thousands of bureaucratic employees who do not work directly with offenders for direct programs to accomplish re-entry goals.

When I was hired in 1988, the average caseload for case managers was manageable at (approx. 120 inmates). There was a policy quota in the Unit Management manual for “not less than once case manager per 100 inmates”. This allowed regular, meaningful interactions with the population in offices directly on the ranges of the inmate housing units.

The BOP practiced a “Unit Management” concept which was a multi-disciplinary team consisting of a case manager, counselor, unit manager, education representative and staff psychologist. The average inmate team meeting or staffing (referred to as a program review) had a majority of the team in attendance to identify programs to address Criminogenic needs for a comprehensive correctional treatment plan. This program review concept, no longer practiced as intended, is still included in the policy Inmate Classification and program Review, PS # 5322.13: however, a majority of inmate program reviews are now on a one on one basis, without the physical presence of a unit manager, educational representative or staff psychologist. In many cases, this one on one, “team” has a focus to quickly sign forms and move along.

It should be noted the historical unit management concept and evolution came from various research articles from BOP personnel like Tom Kane and Doug Lansing, (See Federal Probation Journal) and called for caseloads of approximately 50 to 100 inmates per caseload. Years later, (1989) a national case management work group was established by the BOP Correctional Programs Division and was comprised of Wardens, Regional administrators and Central Office staff. The very first recommendation in the final report was to reduce caseloads to 90-100 inmates. Today, caseloads are approximately 200 inmates while unit managers have upwards of 500 inmates. Case management staff does not have the time to interact with offenders or deliver groups and other programs given the paperwork and administrative responsibilities of such large caseloads.

6 Recommendation to Avert further growth/rehabilitation programs:

The next recommendation is regarding Comprehensive Sanction Centers (CSC). This concept is contained in BOP Program Statement, 7310.04, CCC Utilization and Transfer Procedure, but was also studied and deemed effective by BOP researches as reflected in the below survey:

http://www.bop.gov/resources/research_projects/published_reports/gen_program_eval/oreprsurvey.pdf

An urban, CSC concept can be expanded in conjunction with the AOUSC to offer diversionary drug treatment, mental health and veterans courts to divert individuals from the Federal correctional system. It would also operate as a day reporting center, long term housing facility and Residential Re-entry center to provide comprehensive and direct services while offenders also participate in work, educational and vocational programs.

One of the biggest failures regarding our prison system is the construction of large facilities far outside metropolitan areas away from the family unit and community resources. Large, urban CSC’s could have both a diversionary and long term custodial mission, but include a pre-release unit for transition. The population would receive programs and services through community partnerships but also give support to the various community organizations and faith based groups in the spirit of restorative justice. This concept was practiced on a smaller level back in the 1990’s in what was referred to as “The Urban Work Cadre”. (see BOP Operations Memo 225-91 (7300), entitled Community Service Projects,  which allowed inmates in various parts of the country to work in the community 18 months from release. Even today, the BOP has partnered with other Federal agencies to provide labor and services which can be better formalized into vocational training programs.

From a BOP technical perspective, the classification policy, PS 5100.08, Inmate Security Designation and Custody Classification: allows inmates who are assigned to “Community Custody” to participate in work and/or community programs.

Prior to the widespread adoption of “Satellite Camps”, the BOP allowed inmates who were even Medium security, to work outside secure facility fences based on the assessment done on what is/was referred to a BP-338 (Custody Classification/Review). The Unit Team assessed the various factors and characteristics of individuals and reduced the “custody level”. There is already a BOP Threat Assessment tool – (BP-338) in the BOP SENTRY system which can be modified rather than re-created which is suggested in the CORRECTIONS ACT.

7 Recommendation for a build out of the RRC infrastructure: There is a need to build out the RRC infrastructure, especially given the inmates being processed under the “Minus 2” provisions of the USSC. Although the Second Chance Act of 2007 increased the statutory amount of time individuals can be placed in RRC’s to 12 months, it has been my experience few are placed for over 6 months due to limited bed space. Current law and policy allows for direct designation to RRC’s for short sentences and longer periods of work/study release, yet placements are often restricted given limited because of bed space which does not honor the intent of the SCA of 2007. There also needs to be a greater adherence to the impetus in PS # 5330.11, Psychology Treatment programs: that directs warden’s to recommend “The Maximum RRC placement” for inmates who complete the Non-Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program.

8 Legislative Changes Recommendation: The most profound suggestion I can make to this commission is similar in scope to FedCURE’s Barber initiative which I strongly support. This practical and easy to implement approach currently exists within the BOP framework and culture and is known as the “Old Law” good time system.

I am not advocating a return to the Federal parole system bureaucracy but the return to the good time system prior to the Sentencing Reform Act (SRA) which could save the government tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions) of dollars and provide a drastic population reduction

Specifically, inmates who maintain clear conduct and make satisfactory progress towards their overall comprehensive treatment plan, earn extra and statutory good time for the possibility of release just under 66% or (2/3) of their sentence. In addition, forfeited good time because of misconduct could be earned back with periods of clear conduct so there are incentives for good behavior as well as programming with the enhancement of security and staff/inmate safety. Under the current system, once good conduct time is withheld, it can NEVER be earned back.

In regards to current, back end, legislative efforts, there is no need to reinvent the wheel with pass labor intensive bills which allow the BOP too much discretion, created new bureaucratic tools that take years to study and implement. Look no further than the early release provisions under 3621 (e) for the Residential Drug Abuse program (aka RDAP). It was an extremely cumbersome process with waiting lists and reduced time benefits. People now embellish drug and alcohol histories in the pre-sentence report and a cottage industry has evolved to manipulate RDAP eligibility due to the early release incentive. The single “Program”, not the treatment, becomes the end game.

The core philosophy of BOP correctional treatment is not some “magic” single program but an overall, comprehensive treatment plan which addresses multiple Criminogenic factors. It is this multi-faceted program plan that should be awarded with good time for ALL people making progress towards achieving correctional treatment goals similar in the way the BOP awards current GCT for GED program participation.

Cumbersome “back-end” bills incentivize single programs fall short of the core BOP concept of treatment. Most notably is the recent current “CORRECTIONS ACT” legislation which has morphed from previous bills and unequally rewards good time for inmates who have complete “programs proven to reduce recidivism”. While this bill has good intent, it falls short in addressing comprehensive treatment goals, creates a new threat assessment tool unfamiliar to the BOP culture and allows far too much BOP discretion and time for program implementation.

I believe my time is up so I will end with four quick comments:

1) Remove or reduce the 10 years mandatory minimum for the Elderly offender program and other RIS initiatives.

2) Remove the 6 month limitation restriction for home confinement to the actual 10% as indicated in the law.

3) Reinstate Pell Grants

4) Require the BOP to update their policies regularly or return to the Operations memorandum system. “

 

SRACA-Truly missing the mark for the incarcerated

As currently written, Senate Bill 2123, or the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRACA) reduces a number of mandatory sentence provisions for drug offenses, makes crack/powder equalization retroactive, expands those eligible for “safety valve” reductions, reduces mandatory sentences for some types of gun offenses, and allows some inmates to “earn” sentence reduction by programming.

While I applaud the front-end measures in the SRACA (by “front-end”, I mean direct changes to law, mostly for people entering the system) the bill is in some ways ill-conceived when it comes to actually reducing the number of people living within the Prison Industrial Complex. As I lament the two most significant “back-end” aspects of this bill (“back-end” meaning provisions which would benefit and/or release the already incarcerated), it may make far more sense to totally remove them from SRACA all together and re-group.

Let’s take the “Aged” Offender” provisions in Section 210 (Compassionate Release). While it is practical to reduce the eligibility age to 60 and the percentage of time needed to be served at 2/3; the devil is in the details. To frame this aspect historically, one must first reflect back to the Second Chance Act of 2007 (SCA) and specifically the “Elderly Offender” (EOP) pilot program. The original pilot offered early release to inmates over age 65 who had served 10 years or 75% of their sentence, whichever was greater.

I placed several offenders in the EOP program and it gave me a better understanding of what happens when legislation and agency bureaucracy collide. Though the SCA was truly landmark legislation, when it came to back-end reforms, it too was ill conceived. Only 71 inmates out of the 855 applicants to the ELP were approved for program placement. The first way to improve SRACA is to allow the BOP to credit “earned” good conduct time towards EOP program eligibility. Here is an example of one of the cases I processed to bring home this point:

I had a 70 year old assigned to my case load who had served approximately 8 ½ years. The law is clear that the BOP “awards” 54 days after each year served and the credit is included in the computer data base on what is referred to as “Good Time Computation” sheet. Logic would dictate-that someone who has served that amount of time (8.5) plus the “awarded” good conduct time (1.5) would be able to receive credit to trigger the 10 year threshold for program eligibility. Unfortunately, the government prohibited him from submitting the program application until he had actually served 10 years. Then, it took them over 6 months to process the referral. With some cost estimates at $56,000 per year for prisoner elder care; multiply that by 2. But the story gets better.

This person who was residing in a minimum (camp) facility at the time, who plowed the roads alone at night outside the facility, and who went on unescorted doctor appointments in the community was eventually denied program placement because he was considered “a risk to the community”. You can’t make this up.

My overall point on this first issue is that SRACA as written, like the SCA, gives the BOP too much discretion in implementation. My fear is the agency will not take advantage of their full statutory authority to credit the good conduct time to allow program application processing prior to eligibility and will be restrictive in determining community risk. This is why “back-end” reforms typically fail as you cannot dictate by law that an agency changes its mindset and culture. That change has to come from leadership within the agency.

The second issue I lament is regarding the back end extra good time provisions in Section 204 (Pre-release custody). SRACA misses the mark even further on this issue by unnecessarily recreating the wheel on good time, discriminating against certain types of offenders, excessively long implementation periods as well as affording the BOP too much discretion.

I was hired by the BOP in 1988 when a majority of the population was “old law”, pre-Sentencing Reform Act of 1987(SRA). Many individuals were eligible for parole at 1/3 but ALL inmates were awarded statutory good time based on the length of the sentence. ALL inmates could earn meritorious (aka extra) good time for positive work and program achievements. The beauty of the old law good time system was that it had incentives for people to program and to maintain clear conduct. If someone received an incident report, any forfeited good time for misconduct could actually be earned back with lengthy periods of clear conduct. I am not advocating for a return to a parole bureaucracy but simply for the reinstatement of the “old law” good time system to allow release at approximately 2/3 (66%) for people who have programmed and maintained clear conduct.

There are four major questions to consider regarding the convoluted aspects of the SRACA and Section 204, good time credits:

1) Why are we re-inventing the wheel when we currently have the policy, threat assessment tool, and “old law” good time procedures in practice today? There are thousands of old law offenders currently in the system. The old law good time process is fair and understood within the BOP culture. With minor legislative amendment, it could be implemented retroactive to cover all offenders almost immediately at literally no cost. I’ve read SRACA over several times and from a field perspective, I can’t see how it could be implemented in a fair and practical manner given the BOP infrastructure. When you view this in context (old law parole system eligibility at 33%, current law 85%), is 66% really that drastic?

2) Where are we going to place the people who do benefit from the good time credits as written? Didn’t we learn from the Second Chance Act of 2007, that we do not have the necessary build out of the halfway house (AKA Residential Re-entry Centers) infrastructure to absorb the populations for transition? Although the SCA allow 12 month RRC placement at the end of the sentence, the BOP has not honored the spirit and intent of the law. It’s been over 8 years since passage of the SCA and placements over 6 months are few and far between and the government simply does not have the contract bed space to carry this out.

3) Why is there greater emphasis on singling out and developing programs when the BOP philosophy is an individualized treatment plan based on individual need? Didn’t we learn from the manipulation of the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) that when the program becomes the emphasis and means to a benefit, it created waiting lists, fictitious drug histories for those who could afford coaching and reduced early release benefits? All basic cognitive behavior therapy and educational and vocational programs should qualify for the extra good time regardless if they have been deemed worthy to have “proven to reduce recidivism”. For instance, a borderline personality program plan may simply be to maintain clear conduct and participate in talk therapy. One size does not fit all and we need to refocus on unique individual needs and abilities rather than “magic” programs.

4) Why are we picking and choosing who receives the credit? People receive a sentence based on the crime and their social history. Why would inflict additional punishment on them subsequent to incarceration? It is the “tough on crime” mentality that got us into this mess in the first place so why are we scoring political points to exclude people, many of which are of our marginalized inter-city populations. There are many criminogenic reasons for crime and we shouldn’t pick and choose who and who is not worthy.

As we wait for the House version of the SRACA to pass committee and for a final reconciliation for the President sometime next year, lets’ hope that those within the Beltway can understand the need to improve the bill’s back-end measures or to start from scratch.

Mr. President, please hear the voices of people from the trenches who have served the government but also those who have served time!(Before you pull out the pen)

Just about every day, there is yet another article on criminal justice reform. Just today, we read about the video released by the Whitehouse regarding the president traveling over the next few weeks to speak with leaders around the country.

While it all sounds great, the president may truly be missing the mark if relying mostly on the feedback of “leaders”. After retiring from the DOJ, it is my experience that it is the “Leaders” who have the most distant perspective from reality when it comes to prison reform and what is really happening at ground level. It is the forward thinkers working in the trenches of our prisons and our people (yes people) who have served time who have a pulse on the system, quality of services and what it will take to accomplish reform. Where are these voices when it comes to ownership and having a seat at the table when “Blue Ribbon” Commissions and task forces are formed?

It’s a great photo op and sound bite when people who have served time are briefly paraded in front of the “leaders” to testify, but where is their seat at that same table? There is a greater need for the stakeholders to be more than just NGO academics, lawyers and lobbyists from within the beltway to drive the reform dialogue. Actually, it is more than just a need for even policy and legislative change. It is equally important to understand and change organizational culture by listening to people who have no ulterior motives or organizational biases and/or filters.

I am concerned on two fronts regarding the recent developments and desperation on Federal crime bill legislation. Both concerns are equally troubling but typical given the dysfunction, mainly status quo, within the beltway.

My first fear is the president will sign anything which makes it to his desk, regardless of the efficacy to fulfill his legacy. My second concern is this climate of desperation, money and lobby groups controlling politicians have finally convinced hold outs to jump on board to move substandard, compromised legislation.

As the companies controlling the prison industrial complex read the writing on the wall, it makes perfect sense for entities like ALEC to pivot from obstructing prison reduction legislation and lobby for bills offering millions for re-entry programs and services. I would imagine the GEO Group and CCA are salivating on the potential of obtaining correctional treatment related contracts where overhead is low and profit is extremely high.

Excuse my pessimism; but as I close my eyes and cross my fingers for a meaningful, comprehensive Omnibus Crime bill, I have a few questions for those within the beltway:

Does anyone remember the Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections? Though I have limited faith in Blue Ribbon Commissions, why would legislation get passed without Colson Report findings when 1 million dollars was just spent to study the BOP, legislation and population reduction?

With such a large BOP bureaucracy and mandate to offer correctional treatment and re-entry services prior to release, why are we allocating so much money to programs which are supposedly already being delivered by paid government workers and current contracts?

What do you tell the people incarcerated and their families who don’t meet the restrictive criteria to be eligible for the extra good time awards and other benefits?

Why does the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act automatically exclude many types of offenders for political expediency regardless of looking at the underlying causes of the criminogenic factors?

Perhaps the most important question is why have we not taken full advantage of the reforms under the current statutory and policy framework which could be implemented immediately through LEADERSHIP?

As the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, SAFE ACT, CORRECTIONS ACT, Reauthorization of the Second Chance Act, Justice Safety Valve Act, Redeem Act and others compete for passage, I hope we won’t look back at this perfect climate of the right/left alliance as a wasted opportunity by passing something as short sighted as the Sentencing Reform Act of 1987!

 

 

 

Yet another Crime Bill!

Last week, I attended the United States Sentencing Commission Annual National Training Seminar on the Sentencing Guidelines which was held in New Orleans.

One thing I came away with was a different take on pending Federal Criminal Justice reform legislation than one would perceive given the recently (and constantly) hyped media coverage. In the past year, the coverage has the incarcerated and their families believing legislation approval is imminent and the prison doors are about to open.

I correspond with dozens of incarcerated people throughout the country and the emails have been non- stop since the 113th Congress convened back in January of 2013. But to be quite honest, this optimism has circulated through the Federal prison grapevine since the early 1990’s.

One of the conference plenary sessions involved a panel of 5 Attorneys plus the Honorable Patti Saris as moderator. Judge Saris is the Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Each panel member spoke about specific bills and current legislative efforts. Although Judge Saris had the passion and glean in her eye like a reformer from within the beltway, I found the information presented by the panel members less than upbeat.

For instance, there are currently several bills in committee often talked about including The   Smarter Sentencing Act, SAFE ACT, CORRECTIONS ACT, Reauthorization of the Second Chance Act, Justice Safety Valve Act and The Redeem Act, with a variety of front end and back end focus all competing for passage in this allegedly united “Right/Left Coalition”. Even the panel members admitted things are changing daily and there is yet more legislation on the way to add to the mix. In fact, as I type this, Politico just released a story about a Senate Compromise which will be announced tomorrow morning.

Listening to the panel, I reflected back to day one of the conference when one of the commission members said something that truly resonated with my mantra. He spoke about “Reformers within the beltway” and “The Trenches”.

Though I am not from within the beltway; I consider myself a “reformer” in that regard who not only has the passion for change, but a pulse on the Federal system from the perspective of the “trenches”.  I believe this type of practical feedback is lacking in the dialogue and legislative development. In my humble opinion and after working directly with the incarcerated for 25 years; current legislative efforts fall short from a practical prison policy perspective. Since my retirement from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), I’ve also come to notice  some of the best legislative feedback is from pro bono, passionate “reformers” and our citizens who have served time in the system.

Sometimes I feel, we are squandering the perfect storm of a reform climate and it’s time to pass one comprehensive Omnibus Crime Bill focusing on both front end (expanding diversionary courts, addressing collateral consequences, reducing mandatory minimums) and back end (good time credit expansion and a build out of the community corrections infrastructure) reforms. We are just around the corner of the presidential election cycle and I hope Mr. Goodlatte and Mr. Grassley hear my prayers!