Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, released the following statement at today’s hearing, “Federal Bureau of Prisons and Implementation of the First Step Act.”
Below are the remarks as prepared.
Ranking Member Collins: Welcome, Director Hawk Sawyer and Associate Deputy Attorney General Bacon. I thank you both for your service, and I’m happy you are here with us today. I also want to thank Mrs. Bass for holding this oversight hearing.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons is tasked with protecting society by confining offenders in the controlled environments of prisons and community-based facilities that are safe, humane, cost-efficient and appropriately secure while providing work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens. It is the duty of the Bureau of Prisons not merely to provide housing, food and security for federal inmates, but to assist those inmates in becoming law-abiding citizens upon their release. All Americans have an interest in that because, as we all know, the vast majority of federal inmates — well above 90 percent — will someday be released regardless of what efforts have been undertaken to reduce recidivism.
To that end, last year we reached a bipartisan and bicameral consensus and passed comprehensive criminal justice reform in the First Step Act. The First Step Act wasn’t just about reducing the size of the federal prison population. Rather, it was about improving the outcomes of those who will one day be rejoining us in society.
I look forward today to hearing from all of our witnesses about how the First Step Act is being implemented and if there is anything we in this body can be doing to help ensure it is fully and successfully implemented. Without a successful implementation, we cannot expect successful results.
Thus far, I believe it is fair to say that this administration is committed to successful implementation. Almost immediately, we saw results. The Department of Justice undertook numerous actions, including issuing or updating various policies and procedures to better serve our inmate population and holding listening sessions to receive input from critical stakeholders. Under the leadership of Attorney General Barr, I am confident Department of Justice will continue to faithfully implement this historic law.
Director Hawk Sawyer and Associate Deputy Attorney General Bacon, I thank you again for being here and for your continued service. I look forward to your testimony regarding the challenges facing the Bureau of Prisons and the opportunities of implementing the First Step Act.