A Cruel Decision by the BOP

Federal Criminal Defense – Sentencing/Incarceration

One of the many difficulties of being incarcerated in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is that an inmate can be designated to a facility very far away from home. We have even had clients from Baltimore who were sent to California. Even though a federal judge can request a specific designation at sentencing, the decision of where to place an inmate is entirely up to the BOP.

A faraway designation is especially difficult on families, many of whom cannot afford the trip to visit a family member who is serving time. Considering air fare, rental car, and a hotel, a trip to an out-of-state prison can be expensive, particularly if the destination is in a remote area that is far from a major airport.

In what appears to be a cruel bit of administrative re-shuffling, the BOP is poised to close its main women’s facility, in Danbury, Connecticut, to convert it into a men’s low-security facility. Danbury is the main women’s facility serving the northeast, and it is easily accessible by all kinds of public transportation. The move will have a horrible impact on families and the inmates who are housed in Danbury. The reason is that much of the Danbury population will be moved to Aliceville, Alabama, which is, almost literally, in the middle of nowhere. This move will put a huge strain on the inmates and on their families.

Making matters worse, these are female inmates, many of whom have children. It is one thing to punish the offender, but does the BOP have to punish the children as well?

It is well established that inmates who have family support – and who receive regular visits – have more success in rehabilitation. They are less likely to re-offend. Inmates are often motivated by people outside the prison walls who love them. This is not rocket science.

The BOP is making a big mistake that, in the long run, will only cost taxpayers more money. Some U.S. Senators are attempting to convince the BOP to reconsider, but it seems unlikely the BOP will heed their advice.