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March 24, 2021

Trone Requests Greater Transparency, Information about Incarcerated Populations from Bureau of Prisons Following Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hannah Muldavin, Hannah.Muldavin@mail.house.gov 

Trone Requests Greater Transparency, Information about Incarcerated Populations from Bureau of Prisons Following Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing 

WASHINGTON — Today, Congressman David Trone (MD-06) announced that he wrote to Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Michael Carvajal requesting information on how the BOP is working to implement the First Step Act, support incarcerated individuals during COVID-19 and beyond, and reduce recidivism.

The letter comes following an exchange during the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee hearing last week where Trone expressed his disappointment about the lack of response to multiple requests for information from the BOP dating back to over a year ago. One of these requests was a letter Trone wrote in March 2020 where he requested greater transparency in data collection and reporting from the BOP, stronger adherence to COVID-19 transfer and quarantine protocols, and updates on the progress of the implementation of the carceral programs that were mandated by the First Step Act.

“Moving forward under the leadership of President Biden, I look forward to working together on ways to meaningfully address recidivism and support justice-impacted individuals, both while in the custody of the BOP and as they reenter the community,” said Congressman Trone.

 

The letter can be found here.

The full text of the letter can be found below:

 

Mr. Michael Carvajal

Director

Federal Bureau of Prisons

320 First Street N.W. 

Washington, DC 20534

 

Dear Director Carvajal,

Thank you for your recent testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science on March 18, 2021. Your commitment to provide a timely and complete response to questions raised during the hearing and in my previous correspondence directed to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) was greatly appreciated. 

Moving forward under the leadership of President Biden, I look forward to working together on ways to meaningfully address recidivism and support justice-impacted individuals, both while in the custody of the BOP and as they reenter the community. 

I respectfully request written answers to the following outstanding questions no later than April 6, 2021. 

First Step Act (FSA) Implementation

  1. What kinds of programming will be required for all eligible prisoners in Bureau custody to access the occupational training, educational classes, behavioral therapy, and drug treatment programs required by the First Step Act (FSA)? How much additional funding will be required to implement these actions? 
  2. What is the timeline for full implementation of these programs?
  3. Please describe in detail BOP’s plan to provide the necessary identification and documents for inmates upon release as outlined by First Steps Act.
  4. For each BOP facility, what percent of inmates have completed the risk and needs assessment?
  5. In detail, please explain the training that has been provided on the risk and needs assessment to BOP staff administering the assessments.
  6. Of the inmates who have been released to a residential reentry facility in the last 18 months, what percent have been placed within 10 miles of their permanent residence? 
  7. Please provide a list of all Bureau of Prison facilities that returned FSA funding last year and include the total amount of approved FSA funding returned by these facilities. 
  8. In detail, please explain the reason each BOP facility that returned FSA funds in the previous calendar year was unable to utilize the approved FSA funding and the specific reason for the return of these funds.
  9. The IRC recommends the implementation of real-time recidivism data and other outcomes-related information to effectively evaluate FSA’s PATTERN risk-assessment instrument and the Bureau’s rehabilitative programming. In detail, please describe what plans the BOP has to undertake data-collection efforts to track the progress of incarcerated individuals as they transition from prison to residential reentry centers or home confinement, and then later into supervision by federal probation.
  10. What additional resources will BOP need to implement the type of data collection and reporting program recommended by the IRC?
  11. What data do you have that tracks recidivism rates and job attainment post-reentry rates? What other agencies track this data? What data does the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System track? 
  12. Please detail the interoperability issues between agencies with regard to data collection, tracking, and sharing. 

 BOP Vocational Training, Education Offerings, and Employment Assistance 

  1. Knowing how important a steady job that pays a living wage is for addressing recidivism, how are you currently strengthening and building new partnerships with businesses to ensure that individuals leaving prison have employment opportunities upon release?
  2. Please provide a list of all vocational and technical programs available to inmates by facility. For those programs, what percentage are registered apprenticeships or licensed programs? What skills are each program focused on? 
  3. How many inmates are enrolled in a registered apprenticeship or licensed program?
  4. How many inmates are currently on a waitlist for a registered apprenticeship or licensed vocational program?
  5. Please provide the job placement rates for inmates that participate in vocational training by program and facility.  Currently, how is that data collected and what mechanisms are in place to track this information? What barriers exist to collecting this data, if any? 
  6. What is the budget for reentry programs in each BOP facility? Is that funding sufficient to meet the requirements of the First Step Act in every BOP facility? If not, what are the gaps for each BOP facility? 
  7. What is the number of dedicated re-entry staff in each BOP facility? Is this a sufficient staffing level to implement the programs needed to be FSA compliant in each facility? 
  8. Please provide a list of educational offerings available to inmates by facility. In each BOP facility, what percentage of these programs led to a GED, certificate, completion of a 2 year program, or a 4 year program? 
  9. How do you determine what educational offerings you provide? 
  10. Of those programs, how many are provided through distance learning and how many are provided by in-person instruction?
  11. What is the current budget for educational offering in each BOP facility?
  12. What financial barriers exist to inmates accessing job training programs or educational opportunities? 
  13. What were the lessons learned from the Ready to Work initiative? 
  14. Are you planning another iteration of this program? If so, how will you do it differently next time? 

Mental Health

  1. What percentage of inmates are designated as needing routine mental and behavioral health care treatment? 
  2. In detail, what plans are in place to ensure that sufficient staffing is in place to provide inmates with the appropriate treatment as outlined by FSA?
  3. What do BOP’s mental health experts recommend for an appropriate inmate-to-behavioral health care provider ratio?
  4. BOP has expanded existing Title 38 special pay authority to address medical staff shortages. What other incentives are needed to help with the recruitment of medical staff, particularly mental healthcare professionals? 

Staffing

  1. What is the current overall staffing level by facility? 
  2. How many positions have been eliminated over the last 18 months? 
  3. How often is augmentation being used in each facility? What mechanisms are in place to collect and track the use of augmentation?

Transfer and Transportation of Incarcerated Individuals

  1. Why has the BOP continued the transfer of incarcerated individuals between BOP facilities during the COVID-19 crisis?
  2. Please describe in detail the BOP’s plan to end unnecessary inmate transfers consistent with CDC guidance during the COVID-19 emergency.

Communications

  1. What communications plans has the BOP put in place to disseminate critical information to incarcerated individuals and their families, staff, vendors, and contractors as the pandemic continues?
  2. What measures are being taken to provide free video conferencing, telephone calls, postage, and when available, tablets to incarcerated individuals to help ensure inmates remain connected with loved ones and to community supports during the suspension of in-person visitation?

Thank you for your attention on this matter.

Sincerely,

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Appropriations, Veterans’ Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees in the 117th Congress and previously served on the Education and Labor and Foreign Affairs Committees. In Congress, Trone is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.

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