The Federal Bureau of Prisons has announced a new policy concerning the certification and civil commitment process for federal inmates. While civil commitment is nothing new for federal prisoners, the new policy better outlines the process, stages and elements for review. This new policy is detailed in Program Statement 5394.01, Certification and Civil Commitment…

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  The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is hoping to find as-yet unrecognized patterns of adaptation and recidivism — which the agency terms “inmate reintegration into the community — by asking software developers to provide information about commercially available software capable of aggregating the various types of data the agency already collects. A request published…

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Statement of Charles E. Samuels, Jr.

Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons

Before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

For a Hearing on the Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Prisons October 22, 2013

Good morning, Chairmen Leahy and, Whitehouse, Ranking Members Grassley and Graham, and Members of Committee. I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss the operations, achievements, and challenges of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (Bureau). While I was appointed Director in December 2011, I have been with the Bureau for nearly 25 years, having started as a correctional officer and then holding many positions including Warden and Assistant Director.

I cannot begin without acknowledging that this past February the Bureau suffered tragic losses with the murders of two of our staff. On February 25th, Officer Eric Williams, a Correctional Officer at the United States Penitentiary in Canaan, Pennsylvania, was working in a housing unit when he was stabbed to death by an inmate. The death of Officer Williams reminds all of us that our work on behalf of the American people is dangerous. Every day when our staff walks into our institutions they willingly put their lives on the line to protect society, one another, and inmates in their care. On February 26th, Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati was shot and killed while driving home from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. This incident is still under investigation. We will always honor the memories of Officer Williams and Lt. Albarati, and their losses further underscore the challenges the dedicated men and women working for the Bureau face daily. While there are many facets to our operations, the foundation for it all is the safe, secure, and orderly operation of institutions, and each and every staff member in the Bureau is critical to this mission.

The mission of the Bureau is two-fold: to protect society by confining offenders in prisons and community-based facilities that are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure, and to ensure that inmates are actively participating in reentry programming that will assist them in becoming law-abiding citizens when they return to our communities. I am deeply committed to both parts of the mission. Yet continuing increases in the inmate population pose ongoing challenges for our agency. As the nation’s largest correctional agency, the Bureau is responsible for the incarceration of over 219,000 inmates. System-wide, the Bureau is operating at 36 percent over rated capacity and crowding is of special concern at higher security facilities, with 51 percent crowding at high security facilities and 45 percent at medium security facilities. We are grateful for the support Congress recently provided to activate new facilities in Berlin, New Hampshire; Hazelton, West Virginia; Yazoo, Mississippi; and Aliceville, Alabama. When fully activated, these facilities will assist us somewhat with reducing crowding for our inmates; however, even with these institutions coming online, decreasing our crowding remains a critical challenge.

The safety of staff is always a top priority, and we use all available resources to secure our institutions. We continue to take a variety of steps to mitigate the effects of crowding in our facilities, and are confident the policy changes the Attorney General recently announced to recalibrate America s federal criminal justice system will provide us even more assistance. These changes, part of the Department of Justice s (Department) "Smart on Crime" initiative, will help ensure that federal resources are used more efficiently by focusing on top law enforcement priorities.

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By Randy Radic

Christopher Zoukis, a 27-year-old federal prisoner, is the
author of Education Behind Bars: A Win-Win
Strategy for Maximum Security
(Sunbury Press, 2012), a contributing writer
for Prison Legal News, and a regular
commentator on prison matters in the penal press.  He has navigated the troublesome waters of
incarceration for the past 8 years, in both federal and state prisons and at
the medium and low security levels. 
Today I sit down with Mr. Zoukis to discuss the complex issue of
determining how much money family members and friends of the incarcerated
should send to those in prison.

Randy Radic: In
my duties as the senior editor at Middle Street Publishing and the chief editor
of the Prison Law Blog, I often receive inquiries from family members and
friends of the incarcerated concerning how much money is appropriate to send to
those in prison.  I find this question
hard to answer since it is so subjective. 
What are your thoughts on how much money is appropriate to send
incarcerated friends and family members?

Christopher Zoukis:
Subjective is most certainly the word here. 
The first two questions those outside of prison should ask are: What
prison system is their loved one or friend incarcerated within and what is the
allowable monthly or weekly spending limit at the prison (if any)?  This should be the starting point of any
determination on how much money is appropriate to send to an incarcerated loved
one or friend.

My experience is with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the
North Carolina Department of Corrections. 
As such, I can provide specific information for these two prison
systems.  In the Federal Bureau of
Prisons, federal prisoners can spend $320 per month ($370 in November and
December) on commissary items.  This
doesn’t include over-the-counter medications, copy cards, or postage
stamps.  In the North Carolina Department
of Corrections, prisoners can spend up to $40 per week in the institutional
commissary.

With these numbers in mind, anything up to $320 per month
for federal prisoners and $160 per month for prisoners in the North Carolina
Department of Corrections would allow them to live very comfortably.  This would easily place them in the top one
percent of those incarcerated within the respective prison systems.

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By Christopher Zoukis

For the past several months we at the Prison Law Blog have been searching for ways to better answer your questions about the Federal Bureau of Prisons, prisoners’ rights, and prison survival.  We have been seeking ways to delve more comprehensively into the realm of prison life so that those soon-to-be-incarcerated, those already incarcerated, and  those who work with or know the incarcerated will have better information upon which to understand incarceration and the rights of prisoners. 

In our search for effective information dissemination methodologies, we have increased our publication volume on the Prison Law Blog by coming to content sharing agreements with Prison Legal News, Jean Trounstine’s Justice With Jean blog, and other media outlets (both online and in print).  We have invited guest bloggers — experts in the prison consulting and prison survival realms — to contribute their voices through interviews and articles.  We have even penned a book about prison survival — which is currently being reviewed by literary agents for representation consideration — and are currently working on another book which profiles every institution within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  Long story short, we have strived to be innovative, unique, and active in all of our efforts.  We feel that we have succeeded on all three counts.

Now we’re back at it again with our Prison Survival Reports service.  The Prison Survival Reports service is a concept which we have been mentally toying with for quite some time and are now ready to start working on.  We plan on producing downloadable Prison Survival Reports which delve into all areas of the arrest, incarceration, and release arenas.  These reports will cover all manner of criminal justice topics which the Prison Law Blog readership will find of interest.  Several Prison Survival Report topics, which we are considering researching, are as follows:

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