U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), alongside Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Jon Ossoff (D-GA), this week announced the introduction of the Federal Prisons Accountability Act of 2022. This bill would bring greater accountability to our nation’s federal prisons by requiring the Director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Currently, the BOP Director is not subject to Senate confirmation despite having significant authority over taxpayer dollars and federal personnel. Unlike most U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) administrators and directors, the BOP Director is appointed by the U.S. Attorney General – not the President – without Senate consideration.
The Federal Prisons Accountability Act of 2022 would require the President to appoint the BOP Director with the advice and consent of the Senate. The bipartisan legislation would also delineate any newly confirmed BOP Director’s tenure to a single, 10-year term at the head of the Bureau.
“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 36,000 employees and a multi-billion dollar budget, and should be subject to Senate review and confirmation as well,” said Senator McConnell. “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.”
“No agency as large as the Bureau of Prisons should have so little accountability. Our bill ensures the concerns of those who work in prisons are heard and acted upon, and will provide much needed Senate oversight of a taxpayer funded system,” said Dr. Paul.
“Imprisonment is one of the most consequential policies of the federal government. The operation of federal prisons and the safety and wellbeing of prisoners are matters that impact millions of lives. Through this bill, Congress can ensure that the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons is accountable to the Senate and the people of the United States through the exercise of our Constitutional role of providing advice and consent,” said Senator Lee.
“Working across the aisle to strengthen accountability of the federal prison system protects Arizona’s corrections officers and Arizonans’ tax dollars,” said Senator Sinema.
“Given the size and multi-billion budget of the Bureau of Prisons, it would be consistent and responsible to require the BOP Director to receive Senate confirmation. This legislation would bring greater accountability to the BOP and to federal prisons across the country, including in Indiana,” said Senator Braun.
“The Bureau of Prisons has been afflicted by deep and persistent mismanagement. Our bipartisan legislation will assert the Senate’s authority to confirm nominees for the Bureau’s leadership and hold them to the highest standards,” said Senator Ossoff.
The BOP Director supervises federal prison employees across the country who work under hazardous conditions to protect the public from harm. The legislation announced today would subject the Director to the same congressional scrutiny as other top law enforcement agency chiefs within the DOJ, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Directors and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator. By extending Senate consideration to the BOP Director, this legislation would encourage the Bureau to provide greater responsiveness to the safety needs of its dedicated federal corrections workers.