If you’re looking for a damning report about our criminal justice system and the method by which we keep people in federal prison, look no further than a 2014 lawsuit by a former prisoner who was left in jail too long due to a “staff error.” The lawsuit revealed 152 other inmates imprisoned by the federal Bureau of Prisons from 2009 to 2014 that were kept in jail for longer than they were supposed to be there.
The inmate in question for the 2014 lawsuit was in jail for 13 months longer than he was supposed to. He settled his claim for $175,000.
What is so scary about this is that there are stories in the report that detail prison officials that missed a judge’s order that could have “substantially shortened” a prisoners stay because those prison officials simply didn’t check the prisoner’s court records.
The report also claims that in addition to these 152 inmates, there were another 4,000 that were released in an “untimely” manner. There were few details about this classification, though the report said these prisoners were not affected by staff errors.
The prison system is a human system, and as such, people are going to make mistakes. The problem here is that instead of a mistake costing someone an extra five minutes of work or an extra $20 in repairs — or something menial like that — these mistakes are shaving weeks, months, and even years off of a person’s life. That isn’t right, and hopefully the federal Bureau of Prisons cleans up its act quickly.
Source: Gawker, “Report: 152 Federal Inmates Served Extra Time Due to ‘Staff Errors’,” Hudson Hongo, May 24, 2016