ABA Chair to Holder: Tap “Leader With Vision” for Prison Job


The head of the American Bar Association criminal justice section, calling the federal Bureau of Prisons’ response to reforms in the corrections field “slow and grudging,” is asking Attorney General Eric Holder to “canvass as widely as possible to seek a leader with vision and experience” to head the bureau, where director Harley Lappin has just retired. Section chair Bruce Green told Holder that BOP has “lagged behind many state systems in developing innovative programs for women prisoners and those with families, imposed unnecessary restrictions on admission to beneficial drug treatment programs, been haphazard in preparing prisoners for release, failed to respond to the needs of the growing population of non-citizen prisoners, and resisted sensible suggestions for change as exemplified by rejection of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission recommendations that reflect prevailing state policy on cross-gender searches and supervision.”

Green said that Holder has declared a “commitment to lowering recidivism rates through correctional improvements” and told the Attorney General that “the BOP leadership vacancy presents an opportunity to effectively test this progressive message in the federal system by recruiting a director who can bring a broad range of experiences to bear on the job.” Green noted that since 1964, the BOP director has been promoted from within, “with no evident attempt to recruit outside candidates.”

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