Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Increase Accountability At Federal Prisons

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), senior member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and eight of his bipartisan colleagues in introducing legislation to bring greater accountability to our nation’s federal prisons. The Federal Prisons Accountability Act of 2023 would require the president to appoint the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director with the advice and consent of the Senate and delineate any newly confirmed BOP Director’s tenure to a single, 10-year term.

“The Director of the Bureau of Prisons leads thousands of employees and expends a massive budget. It’s a big job with even bigger consequences should mismanagement or abuse weasel its way into the system. Making the BOP Director a Senate-confirmed position would bring badly needed transparency and accountability to the federal prison system,” Grassley said.

“The Senate plays a vital role in staffing the federal government, evaluating the qualifications of more than a thousand presidential nominees to ensure transparency and accountability. The Director of the Bureau of Prisons oversees more than 34,000 employees and a multi-billion dollar budget, and should be subject to Senate review and confirmation as well,” McConnell said. “Our bipartisan bill would extend the Senate’s advice and consent role to the Bureau of Prisons Director and expand supervision over this federal agency. The thousands of Americans – and hundreds of Kentuckians – employed by the Bureau of Prisons deserve Senate oversight and an added layer of protection from harm.”

A Department of Justice (DOJ) post, the BOP Director has significant authority over taxpayer dollars and is responsible for supervising federal prison employees in over 120 facilities. However, they are currently appointed by the Attorney General, not the president, without Senate consideration or confirmation.

The Federal Prisons Accountability Act of 2023 would change this by subjecting the BOP Director to the same congressional scrutiny as other top law enforcement agency chiefs within the DOJ, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Directors and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator.

Grassley and McConnell are joined by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.).

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