Civil Rights

Federal Prison Oversight Act

May 23, 2024

Table Of Contents


This Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved the Federal Prison Oversight Act, which will establish independent oversight over all Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities. The bill will require risk-based evaluations of all BOP facilities, prohibit retaliation against any person that is involved in a proceeding or investigation, and will establish an Ombudsman who may receive complaints, initiate investigations, and provide recommendations to individual facilities.

Passed with a bipartisan vote of 392-2, the Federal Prison Oversight Act will create more long-overdue transparency and communication between the public and the BOP, and will also give families and representatives the ability to advocate for better treatment on behalf of their loved ones who are incarcerated.

H.R. 3019 - Federal Prison Oversight Act

Over the past two years, Congress has conducted four different investigations into the conditions of BOP facilities including corruption and abuse, two investigations of uncounted deaths in prisons and jails, and an investigation of sexual abuse of female prisoners. The Federal Prison Oversight Act will provide an additional avenue for the BOP to be investigated and held accountable.

When BOP facilities are left unchecked, thousands of incarcerated people are wrongfully subject to unjust conditions of confinement and are put at risk. The bill will provide a long overdue in-depth assessment of each facility and will require that the BOP addresses outstanding issues identified within the assessment.

Within 18 months of the bill’s enactment, every BOP facility will be given a risk assessment score and the BOP will be required to respond to all inspections and provide a corrective plan of action within 60 days. Risk based evaluations may be both unannounced or announced, and high-risk facilities must receive more frequent investigations.

Inspection and Report

Each inspection will be conducted by the Department of Justice Inspector General and will include a thorough evaluation of the following:

  • Allegations involving excessive use of force, sexual abuse, or misconduct
  • Deaths and serious injuries of incarcerated people
  • Medical facilities and mental health programs
  • Practices related to single cell confinement and restrictive housing
  • Conditions of confinement for inmates
  • Access to legal counsel, discovery, or the law library
  • Working conditions of staff
  • BOP policies and procedures

Following the inspection, the Inspector General will produce a report that will be made available to both Congress and the public, and the BOP will be required to respond to all findings in the report. The bill also encourages the Inspector General to consult formerly incarcerated people, family, or legal representatives to receive input or suggestions.

Department of Justice Ombudsman

The bill will also establish an Ombudsman who will receive complaints from incarcerated people, family members, representatives of an incarcerated person, staff, or any other person who has a complaint about any condition that affects the health, safety, welfare, or rights of those who are incarcerated. To facilitate this process, the Ombudsman will create a secure online form and telephone hotline that will be available to anyone who wants to submit a complaint.

After the Ombudsman receives and evaluates a complaint, they will be able to make policy recommendations to each facility.


The bill also prohibits staff retaliation and discrimination against any person who has made a complaint or any person that has instituted an investigation.

Legal Advocacy and Prison Reform

Over the last few years, numerous civil suits and the work done by legal advocates on behalf of inmates have forced the BOP to acknowledge the presence of systematic failures throughout their facilities. At the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm, our Civil Rights Team, led by Attorney Jaehyun Oh, works tirelessly not only to ensure that our clients receive the justice they deserve, but also to ensure that the BOP will be held accountable so that no other person is wrongfully put at risk.

In 2022, Jaehyun Oh of the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm obtained the largest publicly available settlement for sexual assault against the Bureau of Prisons on behalf of three inmates who were sexually assaulted by a correctional officer. Shortly after, Carolyn Richardson, one of the plaintiffs in the case, testified before congress regarding her experience while incarcerated. Following the testimony, Congress passed the Prison Camera Reform Act to reduce blind spots in prisons and also made changes to Compassionate Release protocol to ensure that survivors of correctional officer sexual assault would be eligible for release.

Notably, the Prison Oversight Act was approved by the House just over a month after the BOP announced that FCI Dublin would be shut down due the facility’s failure to meet expected standards, after eight correctional officers including the former warden were charged with sexual abuse of a ward.

The closure also came after nearly 60 civil suits were filed against the facility, which revealed egregious institutional failures from both the staff and the BOP itself. Currently, attorney Jaehyun Oh is representing over 30 women who were victims of correctional officer sexual assault while incarcerated at FCI Dublin, where eight correctional officers, including the warden, were charged with sexual abuse of a ward.

Although the Prison Oversight Act will lead to many long-overdue changes, it is important that those who have been subject to wrongful treatment as a result of the BOP’s failures and negligence also receive justice.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of sexual assault, medical malpractice, or sustained a serious injury while incarcerated, speak with a Prison Injury Attorney at the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm today.

We can help when the unimaginable happens.

Know your rights, protect your future.

If your civil rights have been violated, don't suffer in silence. The legal professionals at Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm are committed to fighting for your rights. Contact us today for steadfast legal guidance and support.

Get a Free Consultation