Introduction of the District of Columbia Code Returning Citizens Coordination Act

Floor Speech

Date: May 6, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. NORTON. Madam Speaker, today, I rise to introduce the District of Columbia Code Returning Citizens Coordination Act. I introduced a similar version of this bill earlier this year. This bill would require the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to provide information to the District of Columbia government on individuals convicted of felonies under D.C. law in BOP custody. Currently, BOP provides no information to D.C. on these individuals, even immediately before release, which inhibits reentry, increases recidivism and harms public safety.

Federal law requires BOP to incarcerate individuals convicted of felonies under D.C. law. There are currently 3,200 such individuals in BOP custody, and they are located in prisons throughout the United States. This unique custody arrangement creates several obstacles to successful reentry, including information sharing among agencies.

BOP asserts that federal privacy laws prohibit it from providing any information to D.C. on these individuals, which prevents D.C. from having services ready for them when they return from prison. Yet, studies consistently show the importance of health care, housing, education, job training and substance use disorder treatment for successful reentry.

This bill would require BOP to provide D.C. two types of information on each individual convicted of a D.C. Code felony in BOP custody. Every 90 days, BOP would provide the name, age, Federal Register Number, facility where housed and the scheduled release date. Upon D.C.'s request, BOP would provide D.C. the same information that BOP provides to the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia (CSOSA) on these individuals, such as their release plan. CSOSA is a federal agency that supervises individuals convicted of D.C. Code felonies on supervised release and parole.

D.C. would be allowed to provide the biographical information only to counsel for the individuals, and to organizations that provide legal representation to individuals in criminal or post-conviction matters, or in matters related to reentry. D.C. would not be allowed to provide any of the other information, and D.C. law enforcement agencies would not have access to any of the information.

The overwhelming majority of people in prison return home. I hope everyone agrees on the importance of successful reentry.

I strongly urge my colleagues to support this legislation.

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