Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released findings from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP), showing progress in meeting her goal of housing as many D.C. Code offenders as possible in the District near family and friends, which studies show, provides the most effective support for easing the ultimate transition to civil society upon release. Of approximately 5,710 D.C. Code offenders, all juveniles convicted as adults -- currently 11 -- are now housed at the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF) until they are adults, and approximately 621 offenders (11%) serving six months or less, are also housed at the CTF. BOP pays of the cost of housing all D.C. BOP inmates retained in the District.
Norton has now met her highest priority of housing all D.C. juveniles convicted as adults in the city until they become adults. These children were being sent to a facility in South Dakota until the Congresswoman sought this change. She said that it is especially important that we continue to do all that we can for the children from our community, beginning with preparing them to spend time in an adult BOP facility, and bringing them close to family and friends before making that transition. This continuing contact will help retain important family ties in the long run and prepare them to make the most of their time in the adult BOP facility.
BOP also agreed with the Congresswoman that it was cost effective to keep short-time offenders here, reducing the cost of transporting them to an out-of-state BOP facility while ensuring the inmates retain ties to family and community support. In addition, 423 D.C. residents are now in halfway houses in D.C., which prepares them for full release. This means that all D.C. inmates who can be housed in the District today, except those still serving terms and not yet eligible to serve the remainder of their terms in halfway houses, are being retained here.
"These close-to-home housing arrangements are a win-win, saving money, staff time, and other costs associated with sending these inmates to BOP facilities, while at the same time, families, inmates and the city get the benefit of the closer contact with inmates that is valuable to their ultimate re-integration at home," Norton said. "My long-term goal is to bring D.C. male and female inmates to a BOP facility near Washington, converted for D.C. BOP prisoners alone. Until then, I believe we have succeeded in bringing as many of our residents as possible here before their release. As a result, there should be less homelessness and loss of connection to lawful ties in the community. I am particularly gratified that BOP and the District of Columbia Department of Corrections (DC DOC) are working with me to ensure that more D.C. Code offenders are housed within the District."
Two years ago, Norton asked BOP and DC DOC to develop a written agreement to house some D.C. Code offenders at the D.C. Jail facilities or at halfway houses. Initially, agreement was reached for up to 200 D.C. Code offenders serving sentences of six months or less to be held at the D.C. Jail. The BOP reports that when more capacity became available at the CTF, it began working with the Office of the Detention Trustee to allow the BOP to house more D.C. Code offenders at CTF. In addition, with the Congresswoman's support, the BOP has created a staff position with the responsibility to monitor D.C. Code offender issues, including housing.