WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell introduced The Federal Prisons Accountability Act of 2015 today. The legislation requires the Director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the United States Senate. Unlike most Department of Justice (DOJ) administrators or directors, the Director of BOP is appointed by the U.S. Attorney General without the approval of the Senate.
The Director of the BOP supervises Kentuckians who work at Kentucky’s five federal prisons and who protect the public under hazardous conditions on a daily basis. Kentucky corrections officers have repeatedly called for the BOP to take additional steps to mitigate risks to officer safety from violent inmates. Subjecting the BOP Director to the same congressional review as other top law enforcement agency chiefs within DOJ will ensure greater responsiveness by the agency to the safety needs of its nearly 40,000 dedicated federal corrections employees.
The BOP Director, who oversees operations at 122 federal facilities, also administers the controversial Federal Prisons Industries (FPI) program. This entity directly competes against the private sector, including small businesses in Kentucky, for government contracts and is inherently advantaged by its ability to pay federal prisoners less than private sector workers.
“No agency as large as the Bureau of Prisons should have so little accountability. Our bill will ensure the concerns of those who work in the prisons are heard and acted upon. It will also ensure the small businesses affected by competition from the bureau have their voices heard,” Senator Paul said.
“Currently, the director of the Bureau of Prisons has significant budget authority over taxpayer dollars without confirmation by the U.S. Senate,” Senator McConnell said. “The legislation I introduced today with Senator Paul will bring some much needed accountability and transparency to the BOP, which is important for all agencies within the Department of Justice, and will help protect private sector workers in Kentucky and across the nation.”
Don Peace, President of Local 614, which represents the staff at the U.S. Penitentiary McCreary in Pine Knot Kentucky, said “this bill would bring some greatly needed oversight to this agency. I applaud Senators McConnell and Paul’s leadership in introducing this bill. As Federal Law Enforcement Officers, we have a very dangerous job protecting society from criminals. The Senators have always been very supportive of us and this is just another way to show that support.”