Last week the U.S. Senate passed U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s bipartisan bill to reform transparency and accountability in America’s prisons.
Sen. Ossoff introduced the Prison Camera Reform Act of 2021 last month with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Democratic Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Ossoff said “from the infamous Jeffrey Epstein case to countless documented acts of violence and civil rights abuses in American prisons, prison reformers, prison staff, and the Department of Justice Inspector General have for years urged Congress to reform the broken camera systems in our nation’s prisons.”
Ossoff’s legislation will require the Federal Bureau of Prisons to ensure all correctional facilities have the security camera coverage necessary to “protect the civil rights and safety of incarcerated people and staff.”
“As divided as our country seems, the Senate’s passage of this historic bipartisan prison reform measure proves Americans can still come together to strengthen civil rights, public safety, and the rule of law,” Sen. Ossoff said.
“The health and safety of BOP inmates and staff must remain a top priority as we continue to push for criminal justice reform. Updating the communications systems and security cameras in prisons is a step forward in maintaining safe BOP facilities by deterring abuse and misconduct,” said Sen. Durbin. “I’m pleased to see the Prison Camera Reform Act of 2021 pass the Senate today to assist in bringing our facilities into the 21st century while helping us achieve our goal of creating safer conditions for those at correctional facilities.”
“It’s 2021 and the Bureau of Prisons needs a technology upgrade. Our bipartisan bill will do just that. Newer cameras and communications equipment will help ensure safety, security and accountability at Federal prisons for both corrections officers and inmates. I hope the House swiftly passes the bill now that it’s been unanimously approved in the Senate, so these changes can be implemented quickly,” Sen. Grassley said.
The bill requires that upgrades to the security camera system ensure the secure storage, logging, preservation and accessibility of recordings, so footage remains available for investigators pursuing allegations of misconduct, abuse, or other criminal activity.
Last month, the Justice Department announced an investigation into conditions of incarceration in Georgia prisons.
The Bureau of Prisons has 122 institutions located throughout the United States, employing nearly 38,000 employees and responsible for more than 120,000 Federal inmates. There are six facilities in Georgia overseen by the Bureau of Prisons.
Click here to read The Prison Camera Reform Act of 2021.