So titled is an article in yesterday’s News Progressconcerning potential federal interest in a Virginia state prison that closed earlier this year due to economic pressures:
As discussed hereand here, competing Congressional delegations, along with the House Appropriations Committee, have been engaged in a longstanding struggle over the use of prison-related funds. At the heart of the debate was the purchase of an Illinois state maximum-security prison, the Thomson Correctional Center, that was built in 2001 but never opened (i.e., was never activated or went online). As reported in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere (see hereand here), the Justice Department, at the White House’s direction, has bypassed Capitol Hill and purchased the Thomson facility, a move that has election undertones:
As reported by CorrectionalNews, a former Bureau of Prisons’ HR official has joined the private prison industry ranks:
Over the weekend, the editorial board of The Daily Sentinel (Scottsboro, AL) published an op-ed concerning UNICOR (Federal Prison Industries, FPI) being awarded a contract to produce clothing for the military, highlighting the oft-debated use of prison labor at the cost of private sector jobs:
A previous post touched on the dispute between the Illinois congressional delegation and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, over the BOP’s proposed purchase of a shuttered Illinois state prison, as well as controversy surrounding a new federal prison for female offenders slated to open in rural Alabama. Recent media accounts reveal an intersection of the issues centered on money.
This excellent AP article details how private prison companies have grown revenues from contracting to incarcerate immigrants concurrent with investing millions in lobbying lawmakers:
In February, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report, Bureau of Prisons: Eligibility and Capacity Impact Use of Flexibilities to Reduce Inmates’ Time in Prison, in response to a request that it address “(1) the extent to which BOP utilizes its authorities to reduce a federal prisoner’s period of incarceration; and (2) what factors, if any, impact BOP’s use of these authorities.” In April, the Federal Public and Community Defenders issued a reportanalyzing the GAO’s findings.
The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) has announced a contract, valued at $24.7 million for the first year and possibly $136 million through 2016, “to manage comprehensive medical services to approximately 4,900 inmates at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) located in Butner, North Carolina.”
The federal prison population has increased “from 24,252 in 1980” to more than 217,000 today, making the Bureau of Prisons the nation’s largest correctional system. Of course, more prisoners means more prisons. The BOP operates 117 institutions and anticipates activating two more in the next year: the secure female facility in Aliceville, AL and FCI Berlin, NH. As highlighted by a New Hampshire Union Leader articleconcerning a job fair held yesterday for the Berlin facility, prisons have sadly become economic engines for some local economies: