A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced legislation Wednesday to overhaul oversight and bring greater transparency to the crisis-plagued federal Bureau of Prisons following reporting from The Associated Press that exposed systemic corruption in the federal prison system and increased congressional scrutiny (article available here).
The bill, called the Federal Prison Oversight Act, would require the Justice Department to create a prisons ombudsman to field complaints about prison conditions, and would compel the department’s inspector general to evaluate risks and abuses at all 122 federal prison facilities.
Under the Federal Prison Oversight Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general would be required to conduct risk-based inspections of all federal prison facilities, provide recommendations to address deficiencies and assign each facility a risk score. Higher-risk facilities would then receive more frequent inspections.
The inspector general would also be required to report findings and recommendations to Congress and the public, and the Bureau of Prisons would then need to respond with a corrective action plan within 60 days.