Two dozen more organizations have called on Attorney General Eric Holder to name a reformer to head the federal Bureau of Prisons. The position is vacant with the retirement of Harley Lappin. In a letter to Holder, groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, and Sentencing Project urged the appointment of “an individual with experience in systems reform and change. She or he must also have the courage and commitment to lower recidivism rates, improve conditions in BOP facilities, focus on rehabilitation and re-entry, and improve public safety through reforms in correctional practice and strategy.”
The groups said that currently, the prison bureau “functions at nearly 140% capacity where prisoners are warehoused, rather than rehabilitated, and both staff and prisoners are routinely put at risk due to dangerous conditions. Unfortunately, the agency has not adapted its management strategy to take full advantage of the diverse population reduction authorities and cost-savings measures given to it by Congress, such as: expanded half-way house placement, compassionate release, and sentence reduction programs like good time and drug program participation. The consequence of this inaction is that the BOP has grown more bloated and more dangerous over time.” The American Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Human Rights Watch made similar points to Holder in recent letters.