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APRIL 21 (calendar day, APRIL 25), 1930.-Ordered to be printed

Mr. Steiwer, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted

the following


(To accompany H. R. 7832)

The Committee on the Judiciary, to which was referred the bill (H. R. 7832) to reorganize the administration of Federal Prisons and to authorize the Attorney General to contract for the care of United States Prisoners, and for other purposes, have given full consideration to the same and now report favorably thereon with the recommendation that the bill pass without amendment.

This bill is one of a series of bills favorably reported by this committee and is part of the program to provide adequate prison facilities and a proper organization for the administration of the Federal penal system. The congestion in said penitentiaries is exhibited by the report which accompanies H. R. 6807. The committee is convinced that the present organization for supervising the care of persons convicted of offenses against the United States is inadequate and that the prison authorities are working under enormous handicaps in the administration of a broad program of social reconstruction and reformation of Federal offenders. A separate bill in the same series provides for a better method of probation and parol. Each of these bills provides for a useful function, but none will contribute more to the present emergency than H. R. 7832 which will enable the Bureau of Prisons to act

immediately with respect to certain classes of prisoners and thus alleviate the present congestion and unsafe conditions without waiting for the completion of the institutions provided for in H. R. 6807. It will also provide for the first time an adequate system for dealing with certain great masses of Federal prisoners held in local jails and work houses.

The bill is also designed to clarify certain ambiguities and remedy certain defects now existing in Federal statutes as explained in the data submitted by the Department of Justice and hereinafter appended.

The committee appends hereto a part of a communication written by the Attorney General under date of November 25, 1929, to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives and also a memorandum submitted by the Attorney General which sets forth in detail the necessity for the enactment of this legislation:

The Federal Government has not provided an adequate organization to oversee the care and treatment of the nearly 20,000 men who are in prisons and jails for violation of Federal statutes. Heretofore, there has not been a sufficient coordinating force at the seat of government to direct the many problems connected with the administration of our prisons, the education and welfare of the inmates, the industrial activities in our prisons and the care and treatment of Federal prisoners in the 900 local jails distributed throughout the country. Because the penal authorities of some of the States are faced with the same overcrowded conditions which exist in the Federal prisons, it is becoming impossible for them to accept Federal prisoners as boarders. Moreover, conditions in some of the local jails are so insanitary and generally deplorable that the Federal Govern. ment does not feel it ought to use them. A bill has been prepared which would give the department authority to remedy these conditions.

There is also printed herewith and made a part of this report the analysis of the bill which is submitted by the Attorney General which fully sets forth the necessity for its enactment.



At present there is no organization legally charged with the duty of administering the penal and correctional institutions of the Federal Government. Until very recently all matters connected with contracting for the care and subsistence of Federal prisoners and broad general questions connected with the administration of the Federal penal institutions were handled by the general agent of the Department of Justice. The penal institutions were, to all practical purposes, under the independent control of the wardens. There was no organization at the seat of government which was coordinating the activities of the wardens, overseeing the educational and welfare work in the prisons or making plans for the future. When the superintendent of prisons' office was originally established its primary duty was the inspection of jails and prisons. It had but little authority. Gradually the office of the superintendent of prisons has expanded in size and authority, but its growth has not kept pace with the rapidly mounting number of Federal offenders. Legislation is needed to establish a bureau which is definitely charged with the duty of supervising the care and treatment of Federal offenders. It is also needed to remove any question as to the extent of the control of the central office over the wardens and officers of the institutions. The first two sections of the proposed bill will accomplish this end.

One of the most perplexing problems facing the penal officials is how to provide for the safe-keeping, care, and subsistence of persons awaiting trial, held as witnesses, or serving short sentences.. The Federal Government is now powerless to remedy the deplorable conditions of filth, contamination, and idleness which is present in most of the antiquated jails of the country, for it is wholly dependent upon the charity of the States. It is obliged to pay the States the rates they charge for boarding Federal prisoners, even though they may be exorbitant. In many sections of the country the local jails and workhouses are becoming so crowded that the local authorities refuse to accept Federal prisoners. In such cases, the short-term Federal prisoner must be shifted about from county to county, wherever housing accommodations may be found.

It is doubtful if the Federal Government ought ever to have a complete system of jails paralleling similar institutions now found in the political subdivisions of the various States. It is possible, however, for the central Government to improve conditions by certain administrative revisions of its present practices. More frequent inspections of local jails will also be of tremendous help.

In several of the more densely populated sections of the country and in some of the larger cities, the ever-increasing number of criminals has overwhelmed the local authorities. Some of them are refusing to accept Federal prisoners; most of them are reluctant to do so. Emergency conditions are constantly arising which make it most desirable that the Department of Justice have the authority to provide jails of their own. Moreover, the number of Federal prisoners in certain districts is so large that it would be economical for the Federal Government to provide its own facilities rather than pay the unreasonable prices paid to local governments for a very low standard of care and subsistence. For example, the Federal Government can probably house and feed the approximately 300 prisoners it now has in or about Detroit at about the same cost the local officials are now charging, and give them considerably better living conditions. There are a few other localities where a similar situation prevails.

To make it possible for the prison bureau to cope with these emergency conditions and build local jails where necessary, the proposed statute gives the Attorney General power to build such institutions if the cost does not exceed $100,000. This is no fundamental change in the power the department now possesses by virtue of sections 5537 and 5538 of the Revised Statutes, which gives the Attorney General the authority to hire or otherwise procure a place for a temporary jail. It was by virtue of this section that the New York detention jail was leased, remodeled, and eventually purchased by the Government. Had the department had the necessary authority at the outset to purchase a site and build a jail in New York, it could probably have acquired quarters at no greater expense which would have been better suited to the needs of the situation than the one eventually obtained. Sections 4 and 5 of the proposed bill recognize this situation and give authority to build jails if the cost does not exceed $100,000. Where a larger investment is contemplated, specific authorization must be obtained from Congress. There will, of course, be complete control of all expenditures by the Appropriation Committee, as the annual estimates will show the amount needed for new jails.

To avoid any ambiguity as to the authority of the Federal Government to hold prisoners in the New York detention jail, statutory authority for this institution is given by section 6 of the proposed bill.

Present statutes are ambiguous as to who should designate the place of confinement of Federal prisoners. It is not clear from sections 5540, 5541, 5542, and 5546 of the Revised Statutes (enacted before any Federal penitentiaries were established) whether the court may determine the place of confinement, or under what circumstances the Attorney General has the power to designate the place of confinement of Federal prisoners. Moreover, existing statutes, if strictly construed, would limit the power of the Attorney General to change the place of confinement of a Federal prisoner to those cases where the transfer is necessary to preserve the health of the prisoner or to remove him from an insecure institution or to prevent cruel and improper treatment. Section 7 gives statutory recognition to the existing practice by authorizing the Attorney General to designate or change the place of confinement of all prisoners. Proper administration and regulation of our penal institutions makes it necessary for some central coordinating agency to exercise this power.

Section 8 of the proposed bill clarifies how prisoners may be transported and the fund which is chargeable.

There is now no statutory penalty for escaping from the custody of a Federal prison or Federal officers. An escape bill passed the House during the last session but was not approved by the Senate. The provisions of this escape bill have been incorporated in sections 9 and 10 of the proposed legislation to eliminate the necessity of introducing a separate bill on the subject. A similar provision is also found in the bill which established two United States narcotic farms.

There is also no statute which makes it an offense to introduce weapons or contrabrand into a prison. As a provision of this character is essential to the proper administration of the prisons, it has been included here.




2d Session


{ No. 534

REPORT No. 534



APRIL 21 (calendar day, APRIL 25), 1930.—Ordered to be printed

Mr. DALE, from the Committee on Commerce, submitted the following


[To accompany S. 4182)

The Committee on Commerce, to whom was referred the bill (S. 4182) granting the consent of Congress to the county of Georgetown, S.C., to construct, maintain, and operate a bridge across Black-Pee Dee River and Waccamaw River at or near Georgetown, S. C., have considered the same and report thereon with amendments, and as so amended recommend that the bill do pass.

Page 1, line 8, strike out the word "Black-” and insert in lieu thereof the word “the”.

Page 1, line 9, after the word "and”, insert the following: "a bridge and approaches thereto across the".

Page 1, line 9, strike out the word "a".

Page 1, line 9, strike out the word "point" and insert in lieu thereof the word "points".

Page 2, line 1, strike out the words "extending from some point in" and insert in lieu thereof the words “both at or near".

Page 2, lines 2 and 3, strike out the words "across said rivers to a point on the eastern shore of Waccamaw River".

Page 2, line 10, strike out the word "bridge” and insert in lieu thereof the word "bridges”.

Page 2, line 11, strike out the word "a".

Page 2, line 11, strike out the word “bridge” and insert in lieu thereof the word “bridges”.

Page 2, line 16, strike out the word "bridge” and insert in lieu thereof the word "bridges”.

Page 2, line 17, strike out the word “tolls" and insert in lieu thereof the word "toll”.

Page 2, line 21, strike out the word “bridge” and insert in lieu thereof the word "bridges”.

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