Congressman creates bipartisan Bureau of Prisons Reform Caucus

August 16, 2020
In The News

LEWISBURG — Pennsylvania Rep. Fred Keller has created the bipartisan Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Reform Caucus in Congress.

The Snyder County Republican said during a Friday news conference in Lewisburg the aim of the caucus is to improve BOP accountability and transparency, address systemic issues within the system and ensure the health and safety of corrections officers, staff, inmates and the communities surrounding the prisons.

“With a $7 billion budget, more than 36,000 employees and 172,000 inmates, the BOP is a massive government agency, yet its leadership in Washington lacks adequate congressional oversight,” he said.

The recent COVID-19 outbreak at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary and several cases at the three-prison Allenwood complex “are proof that the policies BOP set in place to mitigate the spread of the disease have failed,” he said.

The president of Local 148 of the American Federation of Government Employees at the Lewisburg prison called the creation of the caucus a “monumental step in the right direction.”

Andrew E. Kline praised Keller for taking on the task, saying more sharing of ideas is needed to solve problems and better manage the federal prisons.

Other members of the caucus are Republican Reps. Glen Thompson of Pennsylvania, Elise Stefanik of New York and Rodney Davis of Illinois and Democrat Reps. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania and Andy Kim of New Jersey.

“As a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Bureau of Prisons, I’ve seen clearly that we need to fix this system,” Cartwright said. “And it’s going to take a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to do it.

“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.”

Keller, who fought the transfer of inmates during the height of the pandemic, has the Lewisburg and Allenwood prisons in his district. The Canaan penitentiary in Wayne County is in Cartwright’s district.