Sequestration could impact federal prison in east Arkansas

FORREST CITY (Times-Herald) - With all the talk about sequestration of Federal offices and the cuts that may result, one facility that could feel the impact is the Federal Correctional Complex.

A call to the prison was referred up the ladder to the Department of Justice, which replied with an e-mail stating that the department is "acutely concerned about staff and inmate safety should sequestration occur."

The e-mail stated that sequestration would mean $388 million less for the Bureau of Prison's (BOP) budget.

"But that would not reduce the nearly 218,000 inmates in BOP custody," it continued. "All of BOP's staff would be subject to possible furlough should cuts of the sequestration's magnitude hit BOP."

According to the statement, furloughs would be scheduled to minimize disruption, and a minimum level of staff for security purposes would be maintained.

"Prison operations will be affected, however, and intermittent partial or full lock-downs may be required," the statement continued. "BOP will need to curtail inmate programs such as drug treatment and vocational education, which would lead to higher costs to taxpayers and communities in the long run."

The statement said the cost would be higher because of the lack of training would make it less likely that inmates, once released, would be successful at re-entering society.

"While the Justice Department is considering what steps can be taken to aid BOP, none of the Department's actions can mitigate the severity of every cut faced by BOP.

The e-mail included a letter from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, which the Senator's office posted online.

The letter, dated Feb. 1, stated that a March 1 sequestration would cut more than $1.6 billion from the over-all Justice Department's current funding level. In addition, the letter stated that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be cut over $550 million from its current budget. Nearly $60 million would be cut from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Also, the U.S. Marshals Service would lose nearly $60 million, U.S. Attorneys would be cut $100, million, the Civil Division would lose over $14 million and the Executive Office for Immigration Review would lose $15 million.

Federal agencies will face 5 percent cuts and the military will face 8 percent cuts for the next 10 years, according to the Associated Press.

The sequestration is taking place because the administration and Congress cannot agree on spending cuts and whether to raise taxes.

Click here for more news from the Forrest City Times-Herald.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off