Yesterday, the U.S Congress sent President Obama a $1 trillion dollar omnibus appropriations bill, which bolsters law enforcement agencies and creates the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, has long been a supporter of federal prison reform. This past summer Wolf introduced an amendment to the CJS House Appropriations bill (HR2787) that would create a bipartisan task force to examine the federal corrections system’s rapid growth.
Along with Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Wolf worked to ensure the provision was included in the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill that both chambers passed as part of the FY 14 omnibus appropriations package.
The bipartisan Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, made up of nine criminal justice experts, will develop practical, data-driven policy solutions aimed at increasing public safety, reducing recidivism, and controlling the growth of spending on corrections. The task force will also recommend legislative changes that Congress can implement.
In addition to these overarching goals, the task force will specifically examine overcrowding and growing costs in the Bureau of Prisons, violence in the prison system, improved public safety measures, and programs and policies that have proven to reduce recidivism and encourage prison rehabilitation. They will also conduct a comprehensive analysis of the criminal justice system and identify lessons learned from successful state initiatives as well as cost-effective measures to curb corrections spending.
Mirroring the efforts of Attorney General Holder’s “Smart on Crime” initiative, smarter sentencing policies at the federal level, the task force is a significant step towards sensible prison reform and (hopefully) legislative action.