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Kaine Announces Cosponsorship of Bipartisan Bill to Improve Federal Prison Oversight

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine announced his cosponsorship of the bipartisan Federal Prison Oversight Act, legislation to establish new, independent oversight of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), including the BOP facilities in Pennington Gap and Hopewell, Virginia.

Kaine’s cosponsorship of the legislation follows a number of concerning reports regarding Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Petersburg in Hopewell. In June, two FCI Petersburg employees were indicted for willfully depriving an incarcerated person of medical care, which resulted in that person’s death. Last year, four incarcerated people escaped from FCI Petersburg. An inspection of FCI Petersburg in 2022 by the D.C. Corrections Information Council revealed reports of persistent mold, leaking roofs, and frequent flooding in parts of the facility.

“Inhumane conditions, security problems, and corruption in prisons are wrong and put incarcerated people, prison employees, and the communities that surround federal correctional facilities at risk,” said Kaine. “I’m glad to be joining this bipartisan effort to improve oversight of federal prisons so we can address those issues.”

The Federal Prison Oversight Act would require the Department of Justice’s Inspector General (IG) to conduct comprehensive, risk-based inspections of the BOP’s 122 correctional facilities, provide recommendations to fix problems, and assign each facility a risk score, with higher-risk facilities required to be inspected more often.

The IG would be required to report its findings and recommendations to Congress and the public, and the BOP would be required to respond to all inspection reports within 60 days with a corrective action plan.

The bipartisan bill would also establish an independent Ombudsman to investigate the health, safety, welfare, and rights of incarcerated people and facility staff. The Ombudsman would also create a secure hotline and online form for family members, friends, and representatives of incarcerated people to submit complaints and inquiries.

Full text of the Federal Prison Oversight Act is available here.