I realize it's self serving for me to write about prison reform, but isn't the mere existence of a blog prima fascie evidence of my own narcissism?
In case you haven't noticed, Donald Trump is now President. This is real, not the punch line of a cruel joke. President Trump has asked every non-military federal agency to reduce its costs. We'll see how serious a request that is, but he is the first President since Ronald Reagan to openly acknowledge that the federal bureaucracy is bloated and wasteful. He also understands an Income & Expense Statement, which makes him unique in Washington, DC.
In the meantime, the House Judiciary Committee is said to have prison reform legislation ready, awaiting some direction from the White House. There is no word on what this legislation might look like until President Trump weighs in.
So, if the new administration is serious about saving money, I have a suggestion from right here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. The federal government should close every prison camp in the country and release those inmates to home confinement. There are currently 22,000 inmates housed in 76 federal prison camps around the country, every inmate certified by the Department of Justice to be non-violent. Think of them as camps of men significantly less violent than a Big-12 college football team and slightly less crazy than a Baptist congregation. These camps are essentially warehouses, offering no education or job training, while costing the US taxpayers over $1 billion per year.
None of these camps have walls or fences. As camp inmates all qualify for "community custody," which is the lowest security level, they could already, with permission, leave the camp for work, medical treatment, or travel. Most of the 22,000 are able bodied and would prefer to be working, supporting themselves and their families, rather than being a drain on families and friends. They could be paying taxes instead of costing taxpayers.
I know most people don't care, but if you agree this is a good idea, please email or call your Congressman and your Senators. You could also call or email the chair of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and the ranking Democrat John Conyers (D-MI). While you're in the mood, you could call or email the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and the ranking Democrat Chuck Schumer (D-NY). If any of these elected officials seem confused, ignorant or indifferent about prison camps, encourage them to visit a camp and see the waste for themselves. Finally, you could also call or email the White House or support prison reform groups like A Just Cause.