Letter to Director Carvajal follows new reports that BOP’s mishandling of inmate accounts may protect funds owed to crime victims
WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and senior Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered a second letter to the Federal Sent to Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Michael Carvajal asks for responses to reports that BOP’s inmate trust / deposit fund program is operating with little oversight, allowing federal prisoners to avoid paying child support and other debts, and failing to Check inmate accounts for suspicious and potentially criminal activity. Today’s letter follows new reports that BOP has only about $ 300 to pay for his child pornography sentence, despite having deposited more than $ 12,825 total in convicted sex offender Larry Nassar’s escrow account over the past three and a half years.
“Recent reports that BOP may not be able to ensure that victims of former US gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar receive thousands of dollars in compensation raise urgent new concerns about BOP’s handling of inmate accounts and the extent to which the accounts may be inappropriately used to protect funds. “Owed to victims of crime,” wrote the senators.
The Senators continued, “These reports are deeply troubling – and, as we noted in our last letter, they do not reflect the assurances that BOP staff gave to committee staff earlier this year when they said that BOP was on a regular basis assess detainees’ accounts to ensure detainees “settle their debts, including repayments to crime victims and fines … To the extent that Nassar has the means to make payments to his victims, he must meet those obligations.”
On June 29, Durbin and Grassley chaired a bipartisan group of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in a letter to Carvajal asking for information about the BOP’s trust / deposit program. This month, the Washington Post reported that federal inmates hold more than $ 100 million in accounts managed by BOP, and BOP reports that BOP does not always require inmates to pay off their debts with the money they hold in those accounts. The senators have received no reply to their original letter.
At an April Senate Judicial Committee hearing on BOP oversight, Carvajal was unable to provide exact details about BOP’s policy and process for reviewing inmate accounts for debt assessment.
The full text of today’s letter is available here and below:
4th August 2021
Dear Director Carvajal:
We are writing to follow up on our letter dated June 29, 2021 asking for information about the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) inmate trust / deposit fund program to which we have not yet received a response. Recent reports that BOP may not be able to ensure that victims of former U.S. gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar receive thousands of dollars in compensation raise urgent new concerns about BOP’s handling of inmate accounts and the extent to which the accounts may be inappropriately used to protect funds owed to victims of crime.
Last week, the Washington Post reported that, despite making deposits in Nassar’s escrow account totaling over $ 12,825.00 over the past three and a half years, BOP has only asked him about $ 300.00 in settlement of fines and reparations imposed on him for child pornography. These reports are deeply troubling – and, as we noted in our last letter, they do not reflect the assurances BOP staff gave to committee staff earlier this year when they said BOP regularly reviews inmates’ accounts, to ensure detainees pay their debts, including redress to crime victims and fines. Nassar owes over $ 60,000 in compensation and special audits to victims of the sexual abuse of his child. To the extent that Nassar has the means to make payments to his victims, he must meet those obligations.
It is BOP’s responsibility to ensure that the accounts it manages are properly managed and monitored – and that inmates use the funds in those accounts to pay off their debts, including repayments to crime victims and fines. We reiterate our request for immediate notification of the BOP’s oversight of the Prison Trust / Deposit Fund program and ask you again to respond to our pending requests for information as soon as possible. In addition to the open questions from our letter of June 29, please answer the following questions as soon as possible, but no later than August 18, 2021:
1) Please provide the latest Inmate Financial Responsibility Plan (IFRP) for Larry Nassar and any previous versions of the plan that were active during Nassar’s incarceration.
- Please explain how BOP determined that Nassar should pay US $ 100 per month or any other amount it deems appropriate for legal fines and refunds.
- Has BOP re-evaluated or re-evaluated the Nassar IFRP since the initial evaluation? Did BOP check Nassar’s account balance as part of the BOP evaluations?
2) Please indicate whether BOP has reviewed and assessed Nassar’s COVID-19 stimulus payments to settle court-ordered debts.
3) Does BOP routinely require an inmate to pay only the minimum monthly court penalty regardless of the inmate’s financial situation?
4) Has BOP notified a law enforcement agency such as the US Marshals or a US Attorney’s Office that funds in Nassar’s BOP escrow may have been available for seizure, as suggested in reports from CNN?
5) Please provide the full transaction log for Nassar’s BOP escrow account.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 United States v Lawrence G. Nassar, 16-CR-642-JTN, Government Request to Convert Funds In Inmate Escrow To Apply For Criminal Fines, July 28, 2021 (ECF No. 69).
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