BREAKING: U.S. House Passes Sens. Ossoff, Braun, & Durbin, Rep. McBath & Armstrong’s Bipartisan Bill to Overhaul Federal Prison Oversight

Bipartisan bill requires DOJ Inspector General to conduct vigorous oversight & creates a new independent Ombudsman to investigate health & safety of staff & incarcerated people in Federal prisons

Sen. Ossoff first introduced bipartisan bill in 2022 after leading multiple investigations into U.S. prison system

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s bipartisan bill to strengthen Federal prison oversight passed the U.S. House today.

The bipartisan Federal Prison Oversight Act would establish new, independent oversight of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). It passed the U.S. House in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote and now heads to the U.S. Senate. 

Sen. Ossoff first introduced the bipartisan bill in 2022 after leading multiple bipartisan investigations into corruption, abuse, and misconduct within the Federal prison system, uncovering a lack of oversight of the Federal prison system that led to long-term failures likely contributing to loss of life; jeopardizing the health and safety of incarcerated people and staff; and undermining public safety and civil rights. 

Sen. Ossoff re-introduced the bipartisan bill last year alongside Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, which is also co-sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV); and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Congresswoman Lucy McBath (D-GA-07) and Congressman Kelly Armstrong (R-ND-AL) introduced and led the companion bipartisan bill in the House, which has over 30 co-sponsors. 

The bipartisan Federal Prison Oversight Actwould 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 must also report its findings and recommendations to Congress and the public, and the BOP must 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 staff. The Ombudsman would create a secure hotline and online form for family members, friends, and representatives of incarcerated people to submit complaints and inquiries.

“Our bipartisan Federal Prison Oversight Act has passed the House. 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,” Sen. Ossoff said. “I now urge Senate leadership to bring our bipartisan bill for a vote and send it to the President’s desk.”

“My son, Jordan Davis, was killed at just 17 years old by a man with a gun who is now serving a life sentence in prison. Through my family’s pain, I have found the strength to forgive my son’s killer. Today’s vote marks significant progress in our work to make needed reforms to protect the staff and incarcerated individuals in our federal prison system,” McBath said. “I am very proud that the committee vote last month and today’s vote in the full House received such overwhelming bipartisan support. This is proof of what is possible when Democrats and Republicans work together for the benefit of the American people. I look forward to swift passage of this legislation in the Senate.”

“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,” said Braun.

The Senate Judiciary Committee continues to take an active role in restoring integrity to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and addressing the mismanagement of our correctional facilities. This bill will help improve oversight and ensure the Bureau lives up to its mission to provide safe and humane conditions of confinement and ensure the successful return of incarcerated individuals to the community. I’m pleased to see our bill pass the House and will work with my colleagues in the Senate to make this bill law,” said U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I’m pleased to see our bipartisan Federal Prison Oversight Act pass the House today, bringing us closer to enacting a critical new oversight structure in federal correctional facilities,” said Senator Manchin. “This commonsense bill would strengthen transparency throughout the federal prison system and improve conditions for both staff and inmates, which is especially important after the serious reports of abuses, staff shortages, and dangerous conditions this past year. I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to secure its swift passage in the Senate.”

“Investigations into our Federal prisons have produced shocking and alarming results,” Senator Capito said. “The reports of misconduct by some prison officials, the conditions of some facilities, and the stories of abuse of inmates are horrifying. This also emphasizes the need for stricter oversight of the Federal prison system. The House of Representatives’ passage of our bipartisan Federal Prison Oversight Act reinforces this urgent need for action, and I encourage the Senate to take up this bill as soon as possible.”

“The bipartisan Federal Prison Oversight Act, which I cosponsored, would take important steps to improve oversight of federal prisons and ensure the health and safety of incarcerated individuals and prison employees,” said Kaine. “The Senate should follow the House’s lead and pass this bipartisan bill.”

“Criminal justice is not a red or a blue issue, it’s not a liberal or a conservative issue – it is a smart policy issue,” said Rep. Armstrong. “I am encouraged that the Federal Prison Oversight Act passed the House, and we are one step closer to a more cost-effective federal prison system. This commonsense reform also improves the health and safety of incarcerated individuals, employees, and visitors in its facilities. There aren’t many times in Congress where you can pass legislation that changes people’s lives for the better, so I urge my Senate colleagues to pass this legislation, add accountability to the federal prison system, and work to stop the cycle of crime and addiction.”

The bipartisan bill is supported by civil rights, prison union, and public safety organizations, including the Council of Prison Locals (CPL), Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Justice Action Network, Due Process Institute, Right on Crime, and Niskanen Center. 

# # #


Thank you

Your form has been received. Someone from our office will contact you when the next Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) process begins. If your request needs immediate attention, please don’t hesitate to call our Washington, D.C. office or Atlanta office.

Thank you

Your form has been received. Someone from our office will get back to you as soon as possible. Please allow 5–7 business days to process a request. If your request needs immediate attention, please don’t hesitate to call our Washington, D.C. office or Atlanta office.