LOBBY AND LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANCE
There is a great need in the Lobbying industry for someone with real world, case management expertise and prison experiences. Legislators and Government Officials have a least understanding of how crime legislation impacts Federal prison populations. A field perspective lends credibility to any successful lobbying campaign.
Since my retirement, I have been participating in reform efforts with stake holders in Washington DC. I have testified on Capitol Hill to the Colson Commission Task Force on Federal Corrections where I articulated practical reforms that could be implemented immediately under the existing statutory framework. I also provided input to and attended the meeting for the “Solitary” study with stake holders which was conducted by CNA under a contract from the National Institute of Corrections. While visiting with politicians, staffers, academics and NGO groups on both sides of Capital Hill, it was clear feedback is needed from a technical field perspective. I am suspicious and not impressed with the DC reform world and have come to coin the term “The NGO Mafia”. 😉
An example of this was the Second Chance Act (SCA). Although this legislation created grants to assist in Re-entry efforts, it fell short in other areas. In this legislation, there was a provision for a program called “The Elderly Offender Pilot Program“. The drafting of this legislation was short sighted as the program criteria only qualified just over 100 inmates nationally. I subsequently met with congressional staff and submitted feedback to Senator Leahy for improvements to the ELP regarding the Re-Authorization of the SCA which could have a profound impact on increasing the amount of offenders who can participate in the ELP. It was promising to see the most recent versions of the Re-authorization of the SCA removed the mandatory ten year minimum, reduced the age requirement to 60 and time needed to be served to 66%. Some of these changes have been incorporated into the First Step Act.
While working for the BOP, I referred one of the first ELP offenders in the country to the Washington, DC Central office but they were denied program participation because of past violence from over 30 years earlier. The bureaucrats deemed this offender dangerous to the community, yet he had been incarcerated in a camp setting (without a fence), was a model inmate with an outstanding work ethic who even participated in unescorted medical furloughs in the community. Shortly after the denial, I placed one of the first offenders in the country into this program. If written properly, the ELP could have benefited thousands vs the handful who were approved early release.
The Second Chance Act also fell short in regards to RRC (Halfway House) placement. Even though the statutory Residential Re-entry (RRC aka halfway house) placement term increased to one year, the BOP has not utilized this law to it’s potential and has not built up the RRC infrastructure commensurate with population reduction initiatives. Federal Prison Camp inmates are actually being discriminated against in this regard by reduced placements. In addition, there is a great need to influence new legislation which will allow low risk offenders to return to society sooner and give back to the community and their victims as part of the Restorative Justice process.
Unfortunately, the same is to be said about the First Strep Act. While the front end reforms are a positive step forward, the back end (prison related) reforms are a disaster. It is also underfunded to build up the necessary RRC infrastructure which has limited placement terms.
There are several ways lobby groups can effectuate positive change in the dysfunctional prison industrial complex while actually saving tax payer dollars. Many of these ideas and concepts will be discussed in my book. Most of the changes can be accomplished under existing Federal law.
If you are advocating Federal crime legislation for a particular group or purpose, I can provide your organization the insight needed to enact meaningful laws which will have a positive outcome on the desired goals.
Not for Profits & (501C3’s)
I assist many organizations who are attempting to change archaic correctional practices. In my role as Executive Director of Out4Good, I am developing an initiative entitled “Correction Corrections in America“. Out long term projects include the development of an Ombudsman program, our “Out With a Job” program and my passion to develop the prototype of a multi-faceted “Comprehensive Treatment Center”. The “CTC” will include diversionary drug, mental health and veterans courts plus serve re-entry and low and medium level designated, populations within urban areas. It will develop partnerships with universities and community organizations to give and receives services and mentoring in the true spirit of Restorative Justice.
I made a commitment many years ago, that upon retirement, I would advocate for offenders because of prison programs which are inadequate and do an extremely poor job at preparing individuals for Re-entry. This is not a financial resource issue. The Bureau of Prisons has an adequate budget but chooses to spend much of it on a bureaucracy of administrators at the expense of the people working in the trenches of the system. Our nation is warehousing people in dormitories and make shift areas such as TV rooms, then wonder why our recidivism rates are extremely high.
I find it financially irresponsible the Federal Bureau of Prisons, with an offender population roughly the size of the State of California’s prison population , (less than 210,000 inmates) has 6 Regional Offices and a Central Office with 12 divisions. This does not even take into account the Designation and Computation Center in Grand Prairie, TX and the various training centers around the country. A more staggering number is relative to administrative staffing. There are close to four thousand administrative staff, (many earning 6 figures) in the Regional and Central Offices alone. These administrative staff work in an administrative environment far removed from a prison setting.
I am not a private prison advocate but acknowledge they are doing a better job at controlling costs from an administrative cost standpoint. I am actually opposed to private corrections because they are spending millions of dollars lobbying for the status quo regarding legislative changes. They are a cancer to our correctional system and legislative reform efforts.