by Wayne T. Dowdy
[Updated with note in text body on March 1, 2019]
GENERAL SURRENDERS: Mark S. Inch, former two-star, retired-general, surrendered his post as BOP Director on May 18, 2018. Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed Hugh J. Hurwitz as acting BOP Director. Mr. Hurwitz was the Deputy Director of Reentry Services.
Several sources reported Mark Inch resigned because of conflicts with AG Sessions micromanaging his actions, not allowing him to hire staff, and Jared Kushner’s desires for prison reform initiatives.
AG Sessions opposes any actions that benefit prisoners, even those to be enacted to protect society from recidivist. He opposes the FIRST STEP ACT that passed the House by a vote of 360 to 59, introduced by the Honorable Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
FIRST STEP ACT (H.R. 5682): Those 360 votes by congressional representatives represent the “Will of the People.”
The Will of the People shouted in the House of Representatives, but that may not be good enough for Senators driven by personal agendas and the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that ALWAYS interferes with any bill or policy introduced to reduce prison populations. *
The First Step Act contains provisions that allows federal prisoners to earn additional time off their sentences for taking “Evidence-Based Programs” that reduces recidivism, and thus save taxpayer dollars and spare American citizens of the negative effects of recidivists who fail to reintegrate into society.
IMPORTANT FACT: The bill “clarifies” that federal prisoners earn 54-days per year, not the 47-days the BOP provides because of their interpretation of Title 18, Section 3624(b). Those additional 7-days may not seem like much, but I’ll show it mean a lot.
I sent MR. Inch a letter on 11/20/17 to show how to save money. He didn’t respond. On 03/05/18, I re-submitted it and my BP-10, and then sent Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) a copy of all I sent Mr. Inch.
I’ve readjusted figures to represent the 2017 average cost of incarceration ($99.45 per day/$36,299.25). An average of 44,000 federal prisoners get released each year.
Those 7-days equate to an annual savings of $30,630,600.00 (7 X $99.45 = $696.15 X 44,000).
Those 7-days put me on the streets 240-days earlier (08/07/18), without going to an RRC, so I have a vested interest in the issue.
* Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” for more on ALEC and their influence, whose members I suspect include AG Sessions, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), neither of whom favors prison or sentencing reform.
I agree with Attorney Brandon Sample that the FIRST STEP Act is not perfect because it prohibits too many prisoners from receiving its benefits, but the bill does contain 3-important provisions for all federal prisoners:
- The retroactive Good Time fix;
- Requiring the BOP to keep prisoners within 500 driving miles of their family members;
- Allowing compassionate release motions made by prisoners, DIRECTLY with the court, after exhausting administrative remedies. Brandon Sample Newsletter (email: firstname.lastname@example.org); read his blog at https://sentencing.net.
SENTENCING REFORM AND CORRECTIONS ACT (S.1917): “Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also wants any [Prison Reform] type bill to include sentencing reform. Grassley and [Richard] Durbin [D-Ill.] are joint sponsors of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017, S.1917, that retroactively reduces mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug and gun offenses. SCRA was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate.” Legal Information Legal Services Associates, http://www.lisa-legalinfo.com (email: email@example.com).
Some legislatures want sentencing reform added to the FIRST STEP ACT. Some analysts say that adding the SCRA would likely be the death of the bill.
The sponsors re-titled the initial prison reform bill to become the FIRST STEP for good reason: it is a First Step for change.
Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, lets such bills die instead of sending them to the floor for a vote. I’m sure he’s an ALEC member.
If he does not send the First Step act to the floor, let the voters remove him from his seat for ignoring the Will of the People!
EX-BOP DIRECTOR TESTIFIED BEFORE CONGRESS: Mark Inch prepared his statement for those in attendance at the Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, dated March 16, 2018, presented April 17, 2018.
In his statement, he played with recidivism numbers to present the BOP as complying with its mission of protecting the public. According to Mr. Inch, federal inmates recidivate at about “half” the rate of state prisoners (“[o]ur three-year recidivism rate is nearly half the States’ average. 1”). https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Inch-testimony.pdf
[The following statement clarrified and corrected in blog post HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, CORRECTIONS & REENTRY https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/2018/05/13/happy-mothers-day-corrections-reentry/ ]
Not so! 34.1% is not almost half; it’s almost one third. Maybe math is not his strong suit, or maybe he misrepresented the truth to make the BOP appear better than it is at reducing recidivism. (See below: STATISTICAL JUGGLING OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES.)
In footnote #1, Inch stated, “In 2016, the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that only 34% of the inmates released from the Bureau of Prisons in 2005 were re-arrested or had their supervision revoked over a three-year period.”
I read the 2016 Study and suspect Inch got his data from Table 2, “Rearrest Rates for Recidivism Study Offenders.” That table shows 33.7% of federal prisoners return with a new commitment to pay for their transgressions (that’s almost 34%).
What Inch did not reveal, was that the 2016 Study covered 8-years and showed a 49.3% recidivism rate on page #16 of the study on “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview.”
STATISTICAL JUGGLING OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES: The state study used for comparison was reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005. Patterns from 2005 to 2010”). That State Study did show 67.8% of state prisoners recidivated within 3-years, compared to the 2016 Study for federal prisoners that showed 33.7% of federal prisoners recidivated during 3-years (a difference of 34.1%).
At 5-years, the numbers are 76.6% for state prisoners, compared to 42.1% of federal prisoners (a difference of 34.5%). Those numbers would not have helped him attempt to bamboozle the United States Congress, who battered him during the April 17th, 2018 Hearing.
Based upon one substantial fact, one cannot rely on the accuracy of comparison between the two studies, because the United States Sentencing Commission’s study DID NOT include “non-citizens,” such as illegal aliens known for running back across the border when deported (“The BJS study also included non-U.S. citizens, a category of offender excluded from the Commission’s study.”), fn. #40, U.S.S.C. 2016 Study.
Relying on the March 5, 2018, “U.S. Sentencing Commission’s, 2017 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics,” non-citizens accounted for about 41% of all offenders.
ADD that 41% of non-citizens into the 2016 Study, and the true federal recidivism results would show that the BOP didn’t do any better than states at reducing recidivism; maybe even worse than some, by failing to provide federal prisoners with adequate programs that reduced recidivism, contrary to former Director Mark Inch’s testimony before Congress.
MISLEADING STATEMENTS BY INCH ON RESIDENTIAL REENTRY CENTERS (RRC): In his statement cited above, subheading, “OUR GOAL – EFFECTIVE TRANSITION TO THE COMMUNITY,” Inch wrote, “Despite our continued efforts to seek RRC capacity in new locations and diversify services in existing locations, there remains strong community resistance to RRC’s and few vendors compete for such solicitations.”
Isn’t that the same man whose actions resulted in the non-use of at least 17-RRCs throughout the United States, who then reduced the average placement period to 120-days or less to better utilize resource?
120-days is far below the time allowed by Congress to reduce recidivism and to protect its citizens. Now some inmates get sent to RRC’s in different areas/states than their designated release area, due to his actions.
To justify not renewing contracts, Inch claimed the RRC’s he chose not to extend contracts on were underutilized. Why not keep the contracts to reduce the strain on other RRCs?
Facts prove Ex-Director Inch misrepresented the truth when he testified before Congress.
Read more on halfway house (RRC) issues in these blogs: “Life Inside” (11/20/17); “Half A Problem” (01/12/18), “Storms and a Valentine’s Day Wish” (02/12/18), and “March Madness” (03/20/18).
***** REENTRY SERVICES: Two reentry services provide valuable service to communities by helping to increase the chances of ex-offenders successfully reintegrating into the community: RZero.org and FairShake.net.
[Note 05/05/2021: RZero.org info removed. No longer related to reentry. Fairshake.net continues to provide excellent services to those who use their website]
FAIRSHAKE.NET: I cannot write about reentry services without mentioning FairShake.net, whose owner is dedicated to reentry initiatives and provides valuable services. I learned of RZero.org through her Corrlinks newsletter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Read “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism” (07/21/16) for more on FairShake.net (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com). Even better, visit http://www.fairshake.net. She needs volunteers to help with providing more services.
Be a warrior: Fight and reduce recidivism through effective reentry programs.
Wayne T. Dowdy writes at https:/straightfromthepen.com. Support his writings by purchasing his books. Visit his Smashwords Author’s Page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy today.