The Birmingham News offers a profile of Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr., the son of federal civil servants who hails from Alabama. The piece highlights many of the issues Director Samuels has confronted since assuming the agency’s helm last December:
During his first eight months in BOP’s top job, Samuels has been busy responding to several issues within the prison system, including the budget and criticisms over the treatment of inmates.
On June 19, Samuels testified on the issue of solitary confinement before a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
That committee began looking at the issue after complaints and lawsuits were filed about the mental effects solitary confinement has on prisoners — including reports of suicides.
Samuels defended the BOP’s use of different levels of confinement within the prisons and emphasized that the most restrictive form had been used with a small percentage of inmates within the system. “The use of restricted housing, however limited, remains a critical management tool that helps us maintain safety, security, and effective reentry programming for the vast majority of federal inmates housed in general population,” he stated in prepared remarks to that committee.
Samuels also testified in March before the U.S. House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee regarding the BOP’s 2013 budget request and the prison’s steadily growing population.
“For many years now, the BOP has stretched resources, streamlined operations, and constrained costs to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible,” Samuels testified.
Of the inmates in BOP custody, more than 177,000 inmates are housed in 117 prison facilities, that were built for a capacity of 127,236. Overcrowding is the worst at the BOP’s highest security facilities — 53 percent over capacity, Samuels had testified.[…]
BOP’s other 41,000 inmates are housed in privately operated prisons, residential reentry centers, and local jails.
of the use of private prisons from some groups, the BOP’s use of private prisons continues to grow. BOP’s 2013 budget request includes more privately managed prison beds.
“With respect to the Bureau of Prisons’ utilization of private facilities, we will continue to seek ways to develop and increase our housing capacity that provides the best value to the taxpayer,” Samuels wrote. “The use of private facilities to help reach that goal will continue for the foreseeable future.”
In addition to the above links to prior posts, a few points concerning this far from critical profile:
• At the referenced June hearing
, Samuels testified that “only 7 percent” of the federal prison population, or approximately 15,260 inmates, is kept in isolation cells.
• Whereas BOP data
shows that “nearly 70 percent of high security inmates have been sanctioned for violating prison rules and more than 90 percent have a history of violence,” political infighting
has interfered with efforts to add high-security beds, as congressional delegations push to bring beds for minimum-security prisoners and female offenders to their districts.