I’ve been remiss in posting at this location so thought I’d get out a few points while I had some down time in this 6 degree weather! I’ll keep to the flavor of the month by making a few observation of the seriously flawed Fist Step Act. I say flawed mainly from a prison perspective as the front end provisions are good, even if they don’t go far enough.

As of late, the BOP revised the first relevant policy to the FSA in January on Compassionate Release. In the policy cue is an Operations Memorandum on Home Confinement which I wrote in detail about on a legal blog at : http://joaquinduncan.com/newsletters/Feb2019Newsletter.pdf. I contribute monthly to Todd’s legal newsletter which is a must read.

As predicted, the litigation has already begun and a habeas in Oregon was successful with the release of someone a few weeks ago when the judge ordered the BOP to recalculate the good conduct time. However, I also heard a similar habeas was denied in Texas.

My confusion; rather the confusion of the authors of the bill, is why did they put the good time “fix” in section 102 because that section involved the “extra” time credits for participating in recidivism reduction programs. This gave the agency the discretion to delay the implementation of the recalculation for a least 210 days until the risk assessment tool is developed. My general concern about the good time “fix” is regarding the mass email sent to staff and people in prison which indicated the fix does not apply to everyone which is a misinterpretation of the law. Let’s hope the BOP comes to that realization sooner rather than later.

I’ve recently voiced concerns to the advocacy world about the agency and have a bad feeling in general about recent developments. I’m doing this 30 years and try to keep a balanced and neutral perspective about the BOP given the difficult mission and lack of line staff and treatment resources. It’s easy to be a BOP “hater” when incidents like MDC Brooklyn kick off but I understand what it’s like to work in the trenches of the system with your hands tied behind your back and questionable leadership driving the ship.

In fact, since General Inch hit the road, the DOJ has still not appointed a Director. It didn’t take Director Inch long to assess the agency and decide it was a task far more difficult that he had realized. I had almost an hour one on one with him early on at which time he told me he was “assessing the situation for 90 days then was going to start taking out targets”. I think the biggest target was on his back because he was a needed outsider.

Most people are unaware a majority of the senior leadership in the BOP central office have NEVER worked in a prison. What’s also disturbing is the there are almost 20 vacant warden positions throughout the agency which is which is nearly 20 % of all facilities. Equally interesting is the most senior regional director is in the position for less than a year. It’s not that difficult to abandon ship to the private sector when your daddy is recruiting you to jump and you can basically double your income by collecting your pension on top of the new salary. It makes me wonder what type of signing bonus AD Frank Lara received for sending that BOP memo to all wardens to place people in private ICE contracts prior to his retirement to GEO? I guess that’s for the House Judiciary to determine. These leadership issues are some of the things which give me the greatest concern.

While this blog is a bit more critical than most, I want to end with a positive note that despite the top heavy management structure and leadership void; there are many professionals in the trenches of our federal prisons who take pride in what they do, day in and day out. It is my impression, we are near or at a rock bottom or significant incident within the agency which is going to bring the focus back to adequate line staffing and a correctional treatment model on equal footing with incapacitation.