House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) had a lot on his mind going into a House subcommittee hearing today on the Bureau of Prisons.
His wife, former Detroit City Council member Monica Conyers, pleaded guilty in federal court last month to one count of conspiring to commit bribery and could spend up to five years in prison. Last week, a conservative legal group asked the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to investigate whether he was a player in his wife’s corruption scandal.
At the panel hearing, Conyers wanted BOP Director Harley Lappin to give him a general assessment of U.S. prison life.
“I don’t know if there’s anything called prisoner morale, but what’s it like in the slammer?” Conyers asked.
The House Judiciary chair and House Judiciary crime, terrorism and homeland security subcommittee members also had concerns about prison overcrowding and insufficient staffing.
BOP received $5.6 billion last year. President Obama requested almost $6 billion for the bureau this year. The House Appropriations Committee report that accompanied the legislation on the DOJ budget called the understaffing “chronic.” The report said staffing problems were the result of “inadequate budget requests.”
“Our number one priority right now in the Bureau of Prisons is increasing the number of staff in our institutions that directly supervise inmates,” Lappin said.