October 29, 2010
Chairman Bobby Scott
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
House Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Scott,
For the last several years, I have been working hard to bring attention to the ongoing negative health effects of prison electronic recycling programs on guards and prisoners. In light of the report recently released by the United StatesDepartment of Justice, Office of the Inspector General (OIG), I respectfully request a hearing on this issue of great importance to me and the people of Ohio's 6thDistrict. The full OIG report can be found at http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/BOP/o1010.pdf.
In short, electronic recycling--disassembly and glass breaking--occurred at several Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (also known as UNICOR) operated factories from 1997 until early 2003. During this time, inmates and staff were working in an environment without respiratory protection or any type of engineering control in place to minimize exposures during the glass breaking operations. From the chart on page 48 of the report, it is very clear that there was a complete disregard for the health and safety of staff and prisoners. The report also shows that red flags were raised time and time again, without any action.
My utmost concern is the Elkton Prison in Elkrun Township, Ohio. While I understand their electronic recycling facility has been closed, there are several other prisons mentioned in the report that have recycling programs still operating. In light of the important health and safety considerations surrounding this situation, I believe a hearing is warranted to look into what actions have been taken and still need to be taken by UNICOR and the Bureau of Prisons to better protect our prison employees and inmates.
Given the importance of this matter, and your Subcommittee's positive track record on prison issues, I appreciate your consideration of this important request.
MEMBER OF CONGRESS