Ossoff Introduces Bipartisan Legislation Giving U.S. Senate More Oversight of Federal Prison System
By Holly Werris
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff has introduced the “Federal Prisons Accountability Act” in Congress as part of what the lawmaker calls his ongoing bipartisan effort to increase oversight and accountability in the federal prison system.
Previous investigations into the prison system led by Ossoff have uncovered abuses and corruption that have endangered the health and lives of both the incarcerated population and staff.
Ossoff has also authored the “Prison Camera Reform Act and Federal Prison Oversight Act” to increase accountability and oversight of the federal prison system.
The Federal Prisons Accountability Act adds to these efforts by transforming the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director into a Senate-confirmed position with a 10-year term.
The BOP Director manages more than 34,000 employees and controls billions of taxpayer dollars, yet is currently not subject to Senate approval.
Ossoff was joined by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Mike Braun (R-IN) to introduce the bill.
Senators McConnell, Paul, Cornyn, Blackburn, and Braun reason the massive budget and the safety of the employees the BOP Director oversees warrants the position to be subject to Senate oversight.
Sen. McConnell said, “The Senate plays a vital role in staffing the federal government, evaluating the qualifications of more than a thousand presidential nominees to ensure transparency and accountability. The Director of the Bureau of Prisons oversees more than 34,000 employees and a multi-billion dollar budget, and should be subject to Senate review and confirmation as well.
“Our bipartisan bill would extend the Senate’s advice and consent role to the Bureau of Prisons Director and expand supervision over this federal agency. The thousands of Americans – and hundreds of Kentuckians – employed by the Bureau of Prisons deserve Senate oversight and an added layer of protection from harm.”
“No agency as large as the Bureau of Prisons should have so little accountability. Our bill ensures the concerns of those who work in prisons are heard and acted upon and will provide much needed Senate oversight of a taxpayer funded system,” said Sen. Paul.
Sen. Corryn said, “The Bureau of Prisons has one of the largest budgets within the Department of Justice, yet its leaders are appointed without congressional input. By requiring the Bureau of Prisons Director to be confirmed by the Senate, this bill would increase accountability in our federal prison system and ensure Bureau leaders are responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
“Any government agency that has over 30,000 employees, manages a multi-billion dollar budget, and directly impacts thousands of lives should not be exempt from Senate oversight,” said Sen. Blackburn, adding, “This bipartisan bill extends the Senate’s duty of advice and consent to the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, fostering greater transparency for employees and further protecting taxpayer dollars in the federal prison system.”
“Given the size and multi-billion budget of the Bureau of Prisons, it would be consistent and responsible to require the BOP Director to receive Senate confirmation,” said Sen. Braun. “This legislation would bring greater accountability to the BOP and to federal prisons across the country, including in Indiana.”
Sens. Grassley, Lee, and Rubio seemed more focused on preventing further corruption in the prison system, according to news reports.
“The Director of the Bureau of Prisons leads thousands of employees and expends a massive budget. It’s a big job with even bigger consequences should mismanagement or abuse weasel its way into the system,” said Sen. Grassley. “Making the BOP Director a Senate-confirmed position would bring badly needed transparency and accountability to the federal prison system.”
“By requiring Senate confirmation of the Bureau of Prisons Director and establishing a single, 10-year term, the Federal Prisons Accountability Act underscores the reverence with which we approach one of the most consequential actions the government can take—imprisonment,” said Sen. Lee.
Lee added, “This bipartisan bill reflects our commitment to ensuring that this crucial position remains accountable to the American people. As lawmakers, it is our constitutional duty to provide advice and consent, and this bill fortifies the pillars of transparency and oversight within our federal prison system.”
Sen. Rubio said, “The Bureau of Prisons is a critical agency ensuring the safety of our communities. However, the current system of appointing the BOP Director without Senate confirmation has led to a lack of accountability and oversight. This bipartisan bill would ensure the BOP Director is held accountable to the Senate and the American people.”
No senator made reference to the abuse of incarcerated peoples in their reasoning for supporting the bill, according to the bill analysis reported.