It’s time to say ‘no more impunity for the BOP’

Prison- and unit-wide lockdowns

I understand that correctional institutions are “super spreaders” of the COVID virus almost by nature, since they are high-density congregate settings. Thus, some degree of social isolation for prisoners has been necessary. However, “lockdowns” are particularly harsh in the penitentiary setting, with documented effects on mental health when they are imposed too frequently and for too long. Amnesty International observed in a report last month that “measures introduced by governments to prevent the spread of the disease have led to human rights violations, including the use of excessive solitary confinement.”* U.S. prisons are among the violators.

Lack of programming

It’s widely accepted that participation in developmental programming is critical to rehabilitation. In fact, when parole petitions are denied, supplicants are told they can come back in a certain period of time based on such participation.

  • First, as just documented, there are the repeated and prolonged lockdowns. When prisoners are locked down, they cannot access programs.
  • Second, inspection reports from the CIC document numerous complaints about a very limited number of programs that are not designed to help the individuals once they return to their community. (See here, here and here.)
  • Third, it appears that prisoners assigned to higher-security institutions, as well as those with indeterminate (parole-eligible) sentences, are frequently excluded from educational programming altogether. Members of the More Than Our Crimes network (D.C. residents with long sentences who advocate for second chances) report that even though they are or will be eligible for parole, they are treated as “lifers” and thus not worth the investment.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
More Than Our Crimes

More Than Our Crimes

Rob Barton has been incarcerated for 26 years. Pam Bailey is his collaborator/editor. Learn more at