GA Sen. Ossoff, bipartisan group of lawmakers pass federal prison oversight bill

ATLANTA — Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff and a bipartisan group of Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing to strengthen federal oversight of U.S. prisons.

The Federal Prison Oversight Act, sponsored by Ossoff in the U.S. Senate, has now officially passed both chambers of U.S. Congress and heads to the desk of President Joe Biden for approval or veto. The bill passed in the House in June.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Ossoff was joined by senators from both parties, including Indiana Republican Mike Braun, Independent Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine and West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito.

In the House, Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath and North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong led the charge, with the bill gaining bipartisan support in both chambers.

“My 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed 12 years ago by a man who is now serving a life sentence in prison. Through my family’s pain, I found the strength to forgive my son’s killer,” McBath said. “The passage of my Federal Prison Oversight legislation in the Senate marks a new step forward in ensuring accountability to protect staff and incarcerated individuals in our federal prisons. I thank Senator Ossoff and Congressman Armstrong for their collaboration on this important bill. When Republicans and Democrats come together, we can deliver common-sense solutions for the American people.”


“Our bipartisan Federal Prison Oversight Act has passed the Senate. This is a major milestone. My bipartisan Senate investigations of corruption, abuse, and misconduct in the Federal prison system have revealed an urgent need to overhaul Federal prison oversight,” Ossoff said in a statement. “I now look forward to President Biden signing our bipartisan bill into law.”

Under the oversight bill, the U.S. Department of Justice would establish an independent ombudsman or overseer to investigate health, safety, welfare and civil rights violations at federal prisons.

The DOJ’s Inspector General would also be required to conduct comprehensive, risk-based assessments of all of the U.S. Bureau of Prison’s 122 correctional facilities, as well as provide recommendations to fix problems and score each site for risk.

Facilities graded as higher-risk would also have to have more frequent inspections, and the inspector general would have to provide reports and testimony from its findings to both the public and Congress, along with recommendations.

“More transparency and accountability will create a safer environment for correctional officers and staff who work in our federal prisons as well as the inmates incarcerated in them. This bill does not allow the Department of Justice to intervene into the affairs of state and local jails, and will help to improve working conditions and keep our federal corrections officers safe,” Braun said.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]


Comments on this article