In February 2018, federal union officials from across the nation met with legislators in Washington to lobby against proposed cuts in the fiscal year 2019 federal budget that would prevent the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) from filling an estimated 7,100 currently vacant staff positions in federal prisons. Of the 37,237 BOP civilian positions authorized…

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More than four decades have passed since Estelle v. Gamble, the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which held prisoners cannot be denied necessary medical care under the Eighth Amendment. But when cash-strapped state Departments of Corrections charge co-pays for health care provided to sick prisoners – who earn meager wages and are the least able to afford…

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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 of…

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A 2013 study found that the grievance system utilized by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) appears to have become an important tool to defuse prisoner complaints, supporting the belief that the failure of BOP officials to adequately respond to grievances contributes to higher levels of violence in federal prisons.

The research study determined that another benefit of the BOP’s grievance system is deflecting or reducing potential litigation. Indeed, many federal court decisions have been decided in the BOP’s favor based upon prisoners’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act.

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By John Jay Powers

Jack Powers is an inmate in the federal Bureau of Prisons convicted of bank robbery and escaping from prison. He spent more than a decade in extreme isolation at the ADX where he amputated his fingers, earlobes, a testicle and his scrotum. He has tried several times to commit suicide. “The world outside is like another planet,” he wrote from ADX. “I feel like I am trapped within a disease.” Powers is a plaintiff in a civil rights lawsuit against the federal government regarding its use of longterm solitary confinement for the mentally ill. – S.G.

After 12 long, hard years at the ADX Control Unit Supermax Prison in Florence, Colorado, I’m finally out and among the living. Oh, I’m not on the streets. I’m here among the general population of a federal penitentiary in the dry and dusty desert of Tucson, Arizona.

For a guy who has lived alone in a cement box for more than a decade, the transfer here was really something. First there was a bus and then air-service called “Con-Air” – big passenger jets flown around the U.S. by the Marshalls Service. I had the opportunity to speak with other prisoners and see a couple of cities both from land and air. It was a trip for me for sure.

When we pulled up at the pen, I was all prepared to go straight to the segregation where, once again, I’d be put into solitary confinement. Instead, a number of prison officials met me inside the door and told me that I’d be going directly into the population – into the best unit, in fact, where I’d have single cell. I was so shocked by this turn-around that I began to shed tears.

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