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Keller pushes for prison legislation

U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-Kreamer is pushing legislation requiring the director of the Bureau of Prisons to be appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Keller said the bill, if passed, will bring better accountability to the nation’s federal prison system and subject the director to the same congressional review as other top law enforcement agency chiefs within the Department of Justice.

With the recent retirement of Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal, the bill is not only timely, but ensures Americans have oversight over future leadership and is “a critical step needed to address operational challenges like staffing shortage and inmate security,” Keller said.

“It’s long overdue that the BOP is held to the same standard as other top law enforcement agencies in this country,” he added.

Keller is co-sponsor of the Federal Prisons Accountability Act with several other lawmakers including U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard.

Shane Fausey, national president, Council of Prison Locals, offered the following statement: “The revolving door in the Bureau of Prisons Director’s office has led to uncertainty, inconsistent priorities, the politicization of the agency, and extended periods of inaction. It is time for Congress to act and immediately reintroduce the Federal Prison Accountability Act requiring the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to be appointed only with the consent of the United States Senate. This is consistent with other large agency leadership within the executive branch and would bring the possibility of accountability and stability to the agency.”

Keller said the legislation has a good chance of passage.

He noted the bill is the culmination of prison reform discussions in Congress as well as among corrections officers.

“I am optimistic that the bipartisan support we’ve received will enable us to get this important legislation across the finish line,” he said.

Keller, chair of the Congressional Bureau of Prisons Reform Caucus, said he is working to bring other positive changes to an agency in need of reform.

It includes addressing staff shortages within the Bureau of Prisons, ensuring proper implementation of the First Step Act, prioritizing the development of crisis protocols, and modernizing security and communications equipment used inside prisons.

“These steps represent a concerted effort by lawmakers of both parties to enact meaningful reform to the nation’s prison system,” he said.

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