On July 3 female inmates at the federal prison in Danbury, CT were told that they will soon be transferred to other institutions across the country because the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) needs the space to alleviate the over-crowding in men’s low-security facilities.
Over 1,000 women prisoners will be transported out of Danbury to make room for a like amount of men from male FCIs. Federal mandatory minimum sentences, a product on the failed $3 trillion war on drugs, have pushed federal prisons well beyond the bursting point. And while there has been bi-partisan support to reduce the number of federal inmates, the government has been dragging its feet to implement real change.
According to the Federal Register, “…the average cost of incarceration for Federal inmates in Fiscal Year 2009 was $25,251.” In 2010, there were over 211,000 federal inmates. Now tax-payers will be saddled with the added cost of transporting over 2,000 inmates across the country.
The BOP operates Federal Correctional Institutions (FCIs) for women in Dublin, CA, Tallahassee, FL, Tucson,AZ, Waseca, MN, and has spent $250 million of tax payer money to build a new one in Aliceville, AL. A BOP policy seeks to house a prisoner within 500 miles of his or her home. The women’s prison in Danbury housed women from New England, New York, New Jersey and other nearby states. It also served as a de facto immigration center for women from other countries.
Danbury also has a small prison camp containing approximately 200 low-security female inmates. At this time, there is no plan to convert the camp into a male facility.
Many who seek criminal justice reform realize that shuffling inmates around is not the solution for solving prison over-crowding. Last June a New York Times editorial excoriated the BOP for building yet another prison, instead of looking for a more sensible and effective way to deal with female offenders.