Keller Creates Bureau of Prisons Reform Caucus
A Pennsylvania Republican is leading the charge for a new bipartisan effort aimed at improving the Bureau of Prisons.
On Friday, Rep. Fred Keller (R-Snyder) announced the creation of the bipartisan Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Reform Caucus.
Outside of the Union County Courthouse, Keller and other local elected officials detailed the need for increased accountability and transparency within the BOP.
“I am proud to launch the BOP Reform Caucus today to increase accountability and transparency within the Bureau of Prisons and continue to advocate for the heroes who go to work every day at federal prisons across America,” Keller said in a release. “With a $7 billion budget, more than 36,000 employees, and 172,000 inmates, BOP is a massive government agency, yet its leadership in Washington, D.C. lacks adequate congressional oversight.”
Today, I joined national and local correctional officers’ union leaders as well as local and state elected officials in Lewisburg to announce the Bureau of Prisons Reform Caucus. This bipartisan congressional caucus will aim to improve BOP accountability and transparency. pic.twitter.com/m3F4MfXIl4
— Congressman Fred Keller (@RepFredKeller) August 14, 2020
WNEP reports that Union County, which is within Keller’s district, has two federal prisons and since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the GOP congressman has been “vocal about his opposition to inmate transfers within the federal prison system.”
“The continued movement of inmates across the nation during a pandemic and the most recent outbreak of COVID-19 in USP Lewisburg and FCC Allenwood are proof that the policies BOP set in place to mitigate the spread of the disease have failed,” Keller continued in his statement. “At this critical time in the re-opening phase of our economy and schools, this Caucus will allow Congress to work closely with BOP to ensure the health of our corrections officers, inmates, and the American people.”
The release from Keller’s office added that in addition to improving the accountability and transparency within the BOP, the caucus also hopes to “address systemic issues within the BOP system, and ensure the health and safety of corrections officers, staff, inmates, and the communities surrounding the prisons.”
There’s a total of six members of the BOP Reform Caucus, including two additional members of the state’s Congressional delegation, Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) and G.T. Thompson (R-Centre).
Both Cartwright and Thompson believe the newly formed caucus is the first step in addressing these issues.
“As a member of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Bureau of Prisons, I’ve seen clearly that we need to fix this system. And it’s going to take a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to do it,” Cartwright said in a release. “Today marks the beginning of a coordinated effort to address longstanding issues like dangerous staffing practices that jeopardize the safety of staff and security of our correctional institutions.”
“The creation of the Bureau of Prisons Reform Caucus will bring Members of Congress together in a way to proactively address the challenges facing the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the hardworking federal Corrections Officers, and those the government aims to rehabilitate,” Thompson said in a statement.
While the BOP Reform Caucus includes several members of U.S. Congress, the Daily Item reports that state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) and state Rep. David Rowe (R-Union) were present at Keller’s press conference in support of the effort.