Sen. Ossoff’s Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Security at Federal Prisons Becomes Law

Bipartisan law requires Federal Bureau of Prisons to upgrade outdated & broken camera systems to strengthen security

Sen. Ossoff’s bipartisan PSI investigations of Federal prison system have uncovered crime, corruption, & abuse — made worse by inadequate security camera systems

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s bipartisan bill to strengthen security at Federal prisons is now law.

Sen. Ossoff’s bipartisan law requires the Federal Bureau of Prisons to upgrade outdated and broken security camera systems, ensuring all facilities have the coverage necessary to protect the safety of incarcerated people and staff.

“I’ve led multiple investigations of crime and corruption in Federal prisons, and broken prison camera systems are enabling corruption, misconduct, and abuse,” Sen. Ossoff said. “That’s why I brought Republicans and Democrats together to pass my Prison Camera Reform Act, which is now law.”

Sen. Ossoff introduced the bill last year with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA-12) and Lucy McBath (D-GA-06) introduced the companion bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“With President Biden’s signature, the Prison Camera Reform Act will now become the law of the land,” said Sen. Durbin. “As a result of bipartisan efforts in Congress, BOP will be able to bring its facilities into the 21st century and deter abuse and misconduct by upgrading the security cameras and communications systems in prisons. Ensuring the health and safety of incarcerated people and BOP staff must be a top priority, and today’s bill signing brings us one step closer to that goal.”

“Time and again, the Bureau of Prisons has been the subject of controversy, and a tech upgrade could help bring greater transparency and accountability while ensuring improved safety and security in federal prisons,” Sen. Grassley said. “This bipartisan bill will update cameras and communications equipment to create a better environment for both corrections officers and inmates. I’m grateful that this important legislation is now on the books.”

“As the Chair of the Congressional Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Reform Caucus, our team facilitated several meetings with officials from the Bureau of Prisons and the Council of Prison Locals,” Congressman Keller said. “During these meetings, we heard from corrections officers about major deficiencies and needed upgrades within the BOP’s security camera systems. The Prison Camera Reform Act addresses these concerns and ensures that corrections officers have the resources necessary to keep themselves and the inmates whom they protect safe. This bill is a major step forward for the BOP and the security of America’s federal prisons.”

“Our federal prisons must serve as institutions that rehabilitate individuals and prepare them for reentry into society — and that cannot happen unless we fix the broken prison camera systems,” said Congresswoman McBath. “I am proud to be a champion for this bipartisan legislation that will help stamp down on abuse and corruption, bolster public safety, and protect the civil rights and safety of incarcerated individuals.”

Sen. Ossoff’s bipartisan bill also has the strong backing of the Council of Prison Locals, which represents more than 30,000 BOP employees.

“The National Prison Council applauds the passage of the Prison Camera Reform Act. This vital piece of legislation will require essential upgrades to technology and emergency communication systems, further enhancing the level of safety in our nation’s federal prisons,” said Shane Fausey, President of the Council of Prison Locals. “We want to publicly thank Senators Ossoff, Grassley, and Durbin for their hard work introducing this important safety measure.”

The new law comes after Sen. Ossoff this month unveiled the results of his 8-month bipartisan PSI investigation into sexual abuse of women in Federal prisons, which revealed that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has failed to prevent, detect, and stop recurring sexual abuse by its own employees.

Survivors of sexual abuse in Federal prisons testified at Sen. Ossoff’s PSI’s hearing that BOP employees assaulted them in areas where they knew there was no camera coverage.

The Department of Justice’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, also testified that outdated and broken prison cameras have hindered prosecution of serious cases involving assault and civil rights violations. 

Horowitz called on Congress to pass Sen. Ossoff’s bipartisan bill, noting in his testimony that “action by the BOP on its camera deficiencies is absolutely critical to the BOP’s ability to ensure the safety and security of its institutions for inmates as well as its employees.”

Click here to read the Prison Camera Reform Act.

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