Federal Judges Keep Sending Defendants To Prison Even As Agency Challenges Abound

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Recently, US District Judge Mark Wolf (District of Massachusetts) sentenced Rudolph “Rudy” MeredithA former women’s soccer coach at Yale University, five months in prison for accepting bribes to help parents get their kids into the Ivy League school. Meredith was one of more than fifty people charged in the investigation known as “thevarsity Blues, prosecutors recommended no jail time Because of Meredith’s extensive cooperation, however, Judge Wolfe believed otherwise.

Judge Wolf, like many federal judges, is very intelligent. He graduated from Yale University, BA (1968) and Harvard Law School, JD (1971). In fact, according to one American Bar Association Profile of the Legal Profession 2022Eight out of nine sitting Supreme Court justices have law degrees from Harvard or Yale, as do three out of four retired justices. In the rest of the federal judiciary, Harvard and Yale are the most common law schools, according to the Federal Judicial Center. As of March 25, 2022, there were 111 federal judges with Juris Doctor degrees from Harvard. The other 72 were from Yale. Three other Ivy League schools are represented on the federal bench: among the 22 federal justices are JD from Columbia, 15 from the University of Pennsylvania, and 12 from Cornell. This makes up 232 justices with Ivy League law degrees, or about 18% of the federal judiciary. The conclusion is that these judges are smart so it is fair to ask, would the prison sentences they hand down be different if they knew more facts about the state of our federal prison system?

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Federal judges consider many factors when they sentence a person to prison, but their primary guide is federal sentencing guidelines, In considering those guidelines, judges also use the general tenants of redress, retribution, incapacitation, and rehabilitation as part of their decision-making. Whether or not the prison system is capable of meeting its responsibilities for inmate care is often an afterthought, which is considered normal. In fact, there is rarely a representative from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at a defendant’s sentencing. However, the crisis facing the BOP should give judges pause in handing out prison terms when other options are available.

Federal defendants sometimes spend years on some form of supervision while their case moves through the judicial process. Some wear ankle monitors, have GPS tracking devices, are subject to visits from US probationers and have special curfews. Then, after sentencing, many arrange personal transportation to the prison so that they can surrender and serve their sentence. Usually these are minimum security inmates like Meredith. After that, it is up to the BOP to care for and monitor prisoners, but the agency is in such disarray and judges should be provided with information about challenges to the BOP so they can consider whether another form of punishment is more appropriate. is, and humane, especially when it comes to short sentences (less than two years).

In the BOP’s defense, sentences of less than two years are so short that they expedite the work immediately after the inmate arrives. Maureen Baird, a retired BOP warden, was asked about those short sentences and she said, “The day short term prisoners go to jail, the BOP has to start making arrangements for them to return to society. ” As Baird explained, arranging a halfway house, visiting a home to check out the place they’ll be living and coordinating with US probation takes a lot of time and paperwork to be done upon release from prison. should be done first.

The BOP does not return anyone from prison once a judge has sentenced them. As Baird told me, “The only way to get out of BOP is for the person to go to a facility.” Re-entry programs such as home confinement or halfway living are particularly beneficial for people who have been in prison for several years as they reintegrate back into society. As a result, inmates with short sentences are less likely to benefit from reentry programs and spend most of their sentences in prisons, making this a costly proposition especially for those who already have a home. According to a recent posting in federal registerIn fiscal year (FY) 2019, the cost of incarceration for a federal inmate in a federal facility was $107.85 per day; In FY2020, it was $120.59 per day. In contrast, according to the BOP, an inmate in home confinement costs an average of $55 per day—less than half the cost of an inmate in secure custody in fiscal year 2020.

Most people sentenced under federal law will be returned to society within a short time, like Mr. Meredith. Judges recognize that the BOP has the capacity to safely and humanely care for defendants serving prison sentences, but there is significant data that suggests this is not the case. In the case of an inmate in BOP care, Jimmy Monk was serving a 12-month sentence for banking-related fraud, but died in the minimum security prison camp 60 days after contracting COVID-19. Altogether, BOP had 309 COVID-19 related to the deaths of inmates and 11 staff.

Office of the Inspector General (OIG) cited the BOP for several failures to address the pandemic fcc button, fc milanAnd FCI Terminal Island, which was cited for violations when an inmate was placed on a ventilator at a local hospital while his family was never informed that he was ill with COVID-19. That prisoner died in the hospital.

Staffing shortages were also cited in the OIG’s report on the COVID-19 response, but they are an ongoing problem with the BOP. shane fossey, President of the National Council of Prison Locals, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 29, 2022 that it was no secret that the BOP is in the midst of a staffing crisis of “epic proportions”. Fauci further stated, “excessive overtime, outrageous mandatory double shifts of forced overtime, and increased [the practice of moving management and speciality staff to correctional officer positions as a result of staff shortage] became a by-product of an insufficient number of correctional officers, resulting in countless assaults on bureau staff, the killing of inmates, and the deterioration of conditions within our federal prisons and jails.

Jails are also breaking. new appointment BOP director Colette Peters told The same Senate Judiciary Committee reports that of the 122 institutions run by the BOP, about one-third are more than 50 years old and about half are more than 30 years old. Peters’ predecessor, Michael Carvajal, summed up the problem in testimony to a Senate committee in July 2022, “The current backlog of major modernization and repair projects throughout the BOP is approximately $2 billion. However, over the past 10 years, the bureau has received an average of $95 million annually to address these projects. USP Atlanta and MCC New York, both older facilities, were closed last year for improvements after uncovering infrastructure issues and multiple instances of employee corruption.

Employee corruption remains a problem for the BOP. One AP investigation report 2021 said that two-thirds of criminal cases against Justice Department personnel in recent years involved federal prison employees, who make up less than one-third of the department’s workforce. After the report, Senators Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley asked Attorney General Merrick Garland To take action for improvement in BOP.

trial of former warden Ray J Garcia The head of FCI Dublin Women’s Prison is due to go on trial later this month for sexually abusing several inmates at the institution. other staff members The FCI in Dublin and the prison chaplain were also charged as part of the investigation. Justice Department Issued a report in November 2022 addressing the problem of sexual misconduct by employees in the BOP. The report’s conclusion was that the BOP should do more to prevent sexual assaults and more to prosecute those responsible. Perhaps this recent report will bring more attention to the BOP than once OIG did on the same topic in 2005 When inmate sexual assaults were on the rise.

The BOP is having difficulty enforcing the First Step Act, the comprehensive legislation that was supposed to give inmates the opportunity to participate in programs and productive activities to reduce their time in prison. People with lesser sentences are not even getting credits and are serving their entire time in jail because the agency is unable to calculate credits correctly. One inmate I interviewed who served his full 6-month sentence in prison received no credit for First Step Act credits. She did not want her identity to be revealed for fear of retribution. Inmates across the country are complaining that a new auto-calculator implemented in October is not calculating their First Step Act credits, resulting in inmates unnecessarily staying in jail for longer months than necessary. This has resulted in additional cases being filed in federal court on matters that could be more efficiently addressed by the BOP.

Finally, despite an executive order from President Joe Biden to limit the practice, the BOP continues to use excessive solitary confinement, some Senator Dick Durbin Have tried to address for many years. One NBC News analysis of BOP figures last month revealed that the number of inmates placed in restrictive housing had increased by 7% since May 28, the same week Biden signed his executive order. Solitary confinement use skyrocketed during COVID-19 as the BOP chose to lockdown despite having the right under CARES to home incarcerate minimum security inmates…

Credit: www.forbes.com /

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