Need to do a better job with prisoners

It seems common sense: Prisons are meant to discipline criminals by keeping them locked away from the rest of society. The function of a prison is to keep the inmates, well, imprisoned. But according to a recent Associated Press report, our nation’s minimum-security federal prison facilities are not really doing that. In fact, over the past year and a half, 29 prisoners have escaped from federal facilities, with nearly half remaining uncaught.

These facilities house those whose crimes include racketeering, wire fraud, bank robbery, possession of methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and other drugs, among others. That means for some of those who are supposed to be kept in facilities there is, as one law enforcement officer put it, an “open-door policy,” that allows for a continuation of their crimes.

“Anybody can escape from any camp any minute of any day,” said Jack Donson, a prison consultant and former case manager at a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y. “They’re not secure facilities. They have no fence, no metal detectors.”

Congress, the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons should be livid at the throwing away of taxpayer money and failure to do the basic work required of these problematic minimum-security facilities. Victims of the crimes committed by these inmates, and residents of the communities where they are escaping, deserve to know the federal government is doing all it can to ensure criminals serve out their sentences, rather than being allowed to walk through an open door.


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