All 123 US federal prisons need ‘maintenance’: inspector general

According to the Justice Department Inspector General’s report, the 123 federal prisons in the United States require about $2 billion worth of “maintenance” and most are “decrepit and dilapidated.”

Three prisons, including the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan, where Jeffrey Epstein was incarcerated before his death, have been forced to close because conditions have deteriorated so much.

“We are seeing prisons crumbling,” Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz told Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas. “The building we entered actually had holes in the ceiling in multiple places, causing damage to kitchens, clinics, gymnasiums, etc. And they have not been repaired.”

An Inspector General’s investigation found that the New York MCC’s infrastructure was crumbling, and the facility was shut down by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, with no current plans to reopen.

The BOP has asked for $200 million for infrastructure renovations in fiscal 2022, but only $57 million has been allocated by Congress, but a report released earlier this month said it would take 20 million dollars to repair all the facilities. It is said to cost nearly a billion dollars.

“And what we’ve seen is that if you don’t fix the infrastructure, you can’t keep the speed of the building,” Horowitz said. “It poses a safety and security issue. We have seen inmates sleeping with a pipe over his head and the pipe leaking and not being repaired.” rice field.”

It’s not just the inmates who have to deal with aging infrastructure, but so do the prison staff.

“For years we have been complaining about prison conditions, not only the conditions under which criminals are confined, but also the working conditions under which the personnel work,” said Shane Forsey, president of the local prison council. To tell. told ABC News.

Forsey, who represents more than 30,000 federal prison officers across the country, said the officers he represents work in harsh conditions without fuss because they are dedicated to keeping their communities safe. Stated.

The Inspector General also released three other reports detailing some of the other failures at the BOP. According to IG, the Taft Correctional Facility in Taft, Calif. was so dangerous that the Department of Justice had to shut down its operations. This facility was built in 1996, and since its opening, there have been problems such as unstable ground and cracks throughout the facility. Reports say the crack was large enough for the sun to shine through.

“Every agency has problems,” Horowitz told ABC News. “This is a global problem. Business as usual does not work for the BOP. The BOP must change it and address these very serious issues. ”

But the BOP problem goes beyond the pressing need for physical repairs, a progression that has allowed contraband such as drugs, cell phones and weapons to enter the several federal prisons IG has investigated. There are also security issues inside.

A search of an Atlanta federal prison in 2021 found inmate-made weapons, marijuana, 134 methamphetamines and enough prescription drugs to fill two one-gallon bags, along with 705 cell phones. Some were hidden in prison walls.

“I’m not just talking about guns [and] knife. We obviously want it out of prison,” Horowitz said. We are seeing synthetic drugs coming in. I see cell phones coming in. Cell phones in prison are deadly weapons. ”

Cell phones in prison have proven deadly. In 2013, inmates at a federal prison in Puerto Rico were accused of using a mobile phone to orchestrate the murder of prison officer Lieutenant Osvaldo Alvarati. Four inmates pleaded guilty to their role in the conspiracy.

The inspector general found that more than half of the security cameras in the Atlanta facility were inoperable or malfunctioning. MCC experienced a “significant operational issue related to camera functionality.”

In a statement to ABC News, Prison Service Director Colette Peters said she was committed to working with the IG and the Government Accountability Office on the areas highlighted in the report.

“BOP will carefully assess and implement necessary corrective actions to ensure that our mission to operate a safe, secure and humane facility continues to be met,” she said. “We are confident that the processes and procedures in place today will ensure future success. Leverage data to optimize allocation of resources. ”

Congress has set aside more than $1 billion to build two new institutions for the BOP, but that money has remained largely unused, with projects in the planning stages for more than a decade. The BOP has asked Congress to cancel and defund one project, but the request has not been implemented.

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