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Alternative Incarceration Program Discontinued

By: admin//February 16, 2005

Alternative Incarceration Program Discontinued

By: admin//February 16, 2005

Without consulting federal judges or other members of the legal profession, the Bureau of Prisons decided to close down the Intensive Confinement Center (ICC) program – a shock treatment camp designed to rehabilitate first-time, non-violent offenders. The announcement was part of a Jan. 5 memo by Prison Bureau Director Harley G. Lappin, announcing several cuts in counseling and rehabilitation programs as “cost reduction” initiatives.

“The rationale about cost cutting does not make sense,” said Assistant Federal Defender Timothy Hoover. “In actuality, ICC participants spend less time in custody than traditional prisoners – which means it costs less per prisoner. The BOP also claims that ICC has no impact on reducing recidivism – but fails to cite any studies or statistics to support its claims. Up until 2004, the BOP was touting the value of this program.”

Belt Tightening Efforts

Lappin’s memo indicates that eliminating the ICC program will save an estimated $1.2 million. [Note: Total BOP budget is approximately $4.7 billion.] This initiative is one of three listed in the Phase III cost reduction plan which also calls for a realignment of case managers and counselors, “to achieve greater equity in workload across institutions.” This “realignment” proposes to eliminate 250 positions (110 already vacant) so all federal prisons have a ratio of 150-200 inmates per case manager or counselor.

Another cost-cutting initiative spelled out in the recent memo speaks to identification of mission critical posts, with an objective of substantially reducing overtime costs.

History of ICC

Started 14 years ago by the Bureau of Prisons and administered under 18 USC &#167 4046, the ICC program operates in three locations: Lewisburg, PA; Lompoc, CA; and Bryan, TX. It was based on the state prison shock treatment programs, with several key differences.

The goal – to change offenders’ behavior and ultimately reduce their involvement in criminal activity without compromising public safety – has been accomplished through a daily regimen of physical training, work assignments, education, vocational training and substance-abuse treatment.

A six-month incarceration at an ICC facility is typically followed by a community corrections period during which participants finish out their sentences, first in a halfway house and subsequently under home confinement.

Some of the differences between the federal and state programs relate to the age of the inmates (federal accepts older inmates that meet program criteria) and the approach to discipline (no summary discipline in the federal program).

The ICC program for women focused on particular concerns of female offenders with regard to interpersonal relationships, psychological issues, family ties and similar matters. With lack of self confidence a major concern for female inmates, a greater effort was made to strengthen their self-esteem, help them deal with domestic violence, and promote their parenting skills. Although the emphasis was placed on military drill more at the male ICC facilities, this aspect of boot camp was also popular among female participants, and provided opportunities for team building and overcoming fear.

Testimonial Of A Graduate

Terrie A. graduated from the ICC program in Bryan in June 2002. She currently works as an executive assistant to a vice president of an oil and gas company.

After being convicted on a bank fraud charge, this 44-year-old mother was facing a 24-month sentence in prison or a 12-month ICC program.

“Of course I took the option to serve a shorter sentence, although I was petrified of boot camp,” she said. “There were 66 women in our class – 14 of us were over the age of 40.”

She went on to note that not everyone “got it” – and only 52 graduated in her class.

“I went in with the attitude ‘what can they teach me – I’m 44 years old!’ But counselors know what they are doing,” she said. “They learn all about the inmates before they arrive.”

Terrie went on to say that she has kept in touch with her trainer/counselor and is grateful for the lessons she learned in self confidence.

“When I did my crime, I didn’t consider my family,” she said. “The counselors got me to see what I needed to do to re-establish my relationship with my family.”

Status Of BOP Decision

New York State Senator Charles Schumer wrote to the Justice Department urging the continuance of the federal ICC program. Lappin’s memo set a July 15 target date for closing all three facilities. Essentially, they are allowing inmates in the program to finish, but have stopped accepting new placements.

A motion filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on behalf of a convict who was scheduled to enter the ICC program this month, seeks to stop Lappin, as director of the BOP, from terminating the program.

Along with the motion for a temporary restraining order, the attorney defending Richard Castellini in Castellini v. Lappin filed a 20-page memorandum of law, stating Lappin “abruptly and unilaterally announced that it was terminating the shock incarceration program established by Congress under 18 USC &#167 4046.”

Alleging that Lappin’s unilateral decision is unlawful, the memorandum states the BOP exceeded its authority (See Bowen v. University Hospital, 488 US 204, 208 (1988)) and it failed to meet the notice and comment requirements of 5 USC &#167 553.

Castellini’s attorney also filed a motion for further amendment of judgment – seeking to postpone Castellini’s “self-report date to the Bureau of Prisons … pending the resolution of his motion for temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction.”

“The ICC program is a program that works,” noted Hoover. “It has consistently worked and has been appreciated by federal judges as an alternative. There are many success stories of how the ICC experience has helped people turn their lives around.”

Hoover is not alone in his hope that the program’s termination will be reconsidered.

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