According to the New York Times, the United States Justice Department is considering early release for female inmates who faced sexual assault while behind bars in federal prisons. The Justice Department is considering these early releases due to the “unwillingness of many prison officials to address a crisis that has long been an open secret in government” ( NY Times).
The early release of these abused prisoners rests on the laurels of the underutilized compassionate release program already in place at federal correctional institutions across the United States. Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco asked officials at the Bureau of Prisons to curate a list of all inmates that faced assault by prison employees. Among the department’s findings that were made public:
“Bureau employees abused female prisoners in at least 19 of the 29 federal facilities that have held women over the past decade; in at least four prisons, managers failed to apply the federal law intended to detect and reduce sexual assault; and hundreds of sexual abuse charges are among a backlog of 8,000 internal affairs misconduct cases yet to be investigated.” (NY Times)
The System Is Broken
In case it isn’t apparent, any sexual contact between an inmate and prison employee is illegal, even if considered consensual outside of the prison system. But, unfortunately, that has done little to nothing to stop predators from taking advantage of their position of power over inmates in their care.
Over recent years, it has become increasingly evident that the Bureau of Prisons is an agency plagued with labor shortages, budgeting mishaps, mismanagement, and more. The Bureau houses more than 160,000 inmates, and sexual assault perpetrators have been found “at every level of the prison hierarchy: warden, pastor, guard.” (NY Times). It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Bureau can no longer prevent these horrific crimes from happening under their less-than-watchful eyes.
“The BOP failed to recognize female prisoners being sexually assaulted and elderly prisoners being threatened by a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic as reasons to consider a sentence reduction. In our view, they’ve forfeited the right to have a monopoly over compassionate release.” (Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, NY Times)