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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Second Look

Second Look: The Federal Bureau of Prisons is operating at 149% over capacity. A 10% reduction in the federal prison population would save taxpayers $1.2 billion dollars per year. Put that against the President's pay freeze for Federal employees that will save $28 billion over the next five years--the measure is a continuation of the administration's Accountable Government Initiative, designed to cut cost and save taxpayer dollars.

Bipartisan Support: Republican's (www.RightOnCrime.com) and Democrat's (http://www.besmartoncrime.org/) and members of Congress agree that the current prison system is way so ineffective and that we have been wrong on crime for the past 28 years. It has been a escalating burden on taxpayers who are footing the bill for more prisons. The penal model enacted by Public Law 98-473 (Sentencing Reform Act of 1984) of "incapacitation" in lieu of "rehabilitation and reentry" has failed miserably. We can and must do better.

Our economic crisis is due in part to the state of our judicial system where so many first time non violent offenders are given Draconian sentences and no means to redeem themselves. Once in the prison system, they have no reason to desire rehabilitation or work towards early release.

Americans want to see results, not stiffer sentences. We can change they way the judicial system enforces punishment and how inmates serve their time in a way that would benefit both the inmate and society. The Barber Amendment would benefit the following:

* The Barber Amendment allows the Federal Bureau of Prisons to maintain correctional worker staffing and help relieve overcrowding of prisons.

* The Federal Bureau of Prisons has a budget that exceeds $6.8 billion dollars a year. After the FBI, the BOP has the largest budget of any unit in the Department of Justice.

* The Barber Amendment saves taxpayers $1.2 billion dollars per year.

* Releasing 10% of the federal prison population pursuant to existing Federal Bureau of Prisons policy and procedures poses no risk to public safety.

* The Barber Amendment - Good Time Allowances rewards those inmates who have shown positive behavior.

* Although early release would not be guaranteed, it would allow a Second Chance to those who prove they are deserving of it.

* The cost to house an inmate for 12 months is almost $30,000.00. Costs rise significantly for all inmates over age 60 and nearly double or quadruple for inmates with medical issues.

* People in prison do not receive the same health care as free people and lengthy non-parolable sentences cause medical emergencies for those in facilities; and huge indigent health care costs upon release.

* The Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) is the largest police force in the United States. The AFGE.org, the FBOP's labor union, is battling on the Hill to add 15,000 correctional officers because of safety concerns due to overcrowding and budget cuts. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that building additional bed space in prisons will not resolve the systemic issues of the prison system. We can not build our way out of this.

* The BOP has been triple bunking because of lack of bed space, which heightens tensions and makes it more dangerous for both staff and inmates.

Federal Sentencing data collected, post Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (over 25 years) provides the gold standard of evidence on what works and what does not; and when is the proper time to release an offender from a sentence while posing no risk to public safety. I would also direct you to these facts:

The government's experts on these issues all support reforms, as evidenced by the FedCURE NEWS Presentation on Second Look. Take the time to watch U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer (Video #1), U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder (Video #2) and most of all, Patricia Cushwa, Commissioner of the United States Parole Commission (Video #11) and Harley G. Lappin, Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (Video #8). I would be remiss, however, if I did not strongly urge you to view all of the video's on "Panel Four: Good Time, Community Corrections and Re-Entry." See the exclusive videos here: http://www.fedcure.org/SecondLook.shtml

Since inmates "earned" the right to be in prison, why can't they also "earn" the right to be out?

The Barber Amendment of 2011 would greatly contribute to the healing of our economy and the healing of our nation. There are almost 211,000 people incarcerated in federal prison today and the majority of these are first time non violent offenders, whom under current Federal Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Probation Office procedures, can be safely released via increased good time allowances, with no threat to public safety.

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