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Colette Peters Is In The Congressional Hot Seat

Oregon’s Four Congressmen and 2 Senators Call For Swift Answers From BOP Director Peters

It was widely reported last week that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) led by Michael Horowitz, released the findings of two unannounced inspections of FCI Sheridan. These two inspections took place in November and December of 2023.

Ms. Peters resumed the Directorship of the BOP in the summer of 2022 after coincidentally being in charge of the Oregon Department of Corrections and while that position has no bearing over the BOP or their facilities, Sheridan is essentially in Peters old back yard.

As is part for the course for most BOP institutions, the inspection report revealed alarming staff shortages that affected medical treatment and security of inmates, shortages in programming, staff augmentation and horrific delays in healthcare causing undue suffering by inmates and a huge increase in cost for the BOP. One such case reported from the OIG’s office is where an inmate feigned a suicide attempt in order to get treated for an ingrown hair that had become infected. What could have taken 30 minutes to handle ended up with a 5 day hospitalization for the inmate at an enormous and erroneous cost to the BOP.

DOJ OIG also found that because of the staff shortage, non-correctional officers – like librarians
and cooks – were temporarily reassigned to augment existing correctional officers. This practice,
alongside mandatory overtime for existing officers, resulted in 88,400 hours of work, the
equivalent of 43 full-time correctional officer positions, and 15 more than the prison is currently
authorized to staff. We understand that as of May 2024, the prison is staffed at 87.9% of
capacity. However, we are deeply alarmed that BOP failed to address this issue in its response to

Congressional letter to Director Peters

Just about all of the BOP facilities are experiencing similar problems.

This letter comes on the heals of a Congressional inquiry as to the abrupt closure of FCI Dublin and the affects that it had on it’s female inmate population. In addition, it was revealed last week that the BOP is refusing to settle with 8 victims of staff on inmate sexual abuse at Dublin, that have been clearly documented.

This is reminiscent of Michael Carvajal’s tenure at the BOP that ended after an inquiry from Senator Dick Durbin.

The letter applauds the fact that Peters and her team started to fix some of the issues, but insisted that it may be a little too late. The constituency has asked Peters to answer several questions by June 14, 2024. Those questions (which could be asked about most BOP facilities) are:

  1. How many current vacancies, broken down by position, are there at FCI Sheridan?
  2. How many employees are currently under investigation for misconduct?
  3. How does BOP plan to ensure there is a Special Investigative Agent on staff so that
    similar investigatory backlogs do not occur in the future?
  4. Does BOP plan to authorize additional staff positions at FCI Sheridan? If so, how many?
  5. How many inmates are currently waiting to receive routine dental care?
  6. What does BOP plan to do to reduce the waiting time for dental care?
  7. What plans does BOP have in place to ensure inmates needing supplemental oxygen are
    able to receive it in a timely manner?
  8. When was FCI Sheridan most recently accredited by the Accreditation Association for
    Ambulatory Health Care?
  9. What plans does BOP have in place to ensure a backlog of medical testing does not occur
  10. Does BOP plan to maintain a phlebotomist on staff at FCI Sheridan?
  11. Does BOP plan to restart the RDAP at FCI Sheridan? If so, when?
  12. Does BOP plan to digitize all security cameras within FCI Sheridan? If so, by what date?
  13. Does BOP plan to fund the estimated $21.6 million in infrastructure upgrades needed at
    FCI Sheridan? If so, by what date?
  14. Does BOP plan to adopt all of DOJ OIG’s recommendations? If not, why?
  15. What resources does BOP need from Congress to address these issues across the network
    of federal prisons?

It will be interesting to see Director Peters’ responses to those questions.

The letter was signed by Senators Ron Wyden and Jeffrey Merkley as well as Oregon’s Four representatives: Earl Blumenaur, Andrea Salinas, Val Hoyle and Suzanne Bonamici.

Source: The office of Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)