Tags: bernard kerik | bureau of prisons | reform

Frank Morano: Bernard Kerik Should Direct the Bureau of Prisons

Frank Morano: Bernard Kerik Should Direct the Bureau of Prisons
Bernard Kerik, former New York City police commissioner, attends a discussion on restoring federal voting rights to citizens who have past criminal records, July 22, 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 12 November 2019 12:48 PM

This is probably the most politically polarized era since the Civil War.

It seems there’s nothing the nation’s leading partisans agree on, including what constitutes obstruction, whether man-made climate change is real, what a “whistleblower” is, or even what the definition of “is” is.

In this hyper-partisan environment, it’s refreshing to know that there’s at least one thing all right-thinking analysts can agree upon: what happened with Jeffrey Epstein sounds fishy.

One of the nation’s leading progressives, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, reiterated his questions about Epstein’s prison suicide by saying, “Something doesn’t fit here. It just doesn’t make sense that the highest profile prisoner in America, you know, someone forgot to guard him… I want to understand, I think everyone wants to understand, what really happened. I don’t know what the nature of the death was… I just know it should never have happened, and we still don’t have good answers.”

For the first time in history, this might be the one de Blasio comment that could’ve been uttered almost verbatim by Donald Trump, Jr., who said in a podcast interview, “Man, there's a lot of coincidence there… I'm not going to say yes or no, but a guy who's there, he's magically dead within hours of being off of suicide watch the two cameras that are on him happened to go out. The two guards just happen to ... Man, it seems like a lot of coincidence.”

Whether Jeffrey Epstein killed himself or was murdered, it’s clear who really killed him: the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

The BOP, through its incompetence, which included having the highest profile prisoner in the world guarded by staff members who allegedly fell asleep, failed to check on him for hours on end, and falsified records to cover up its mistake. That’s really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of BOP incompetence though.

This is the same entity that allowed notorious criminal James “Whitey” Bulger to be placed in general population in a prison, where he had known criminal rivals. This is a man who was so well-known that he spent years on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. If this is how the BOP treats high profile prisoners, how do you think they’re treating ordinary inmates?

This is to say nothing of other issues of incompetence including not doing routing maintenance, which forces the taxpayers to shell out massive settlements to those injured for playing Ping Pong and having no heat for days in the middle of winter at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, creating not just an unhealthy situation for inmates and staff alike, but a dangerous one. Let us also not forget the convicted cop killer who was raped by the Corrections Officer guarding him. How can one agency be so incompetent and more importantly, what’s the solution? The answer is the same: leadership.

The leadership vacuum that we’ve seen at the BOP is not something that can be blamed on one administration. It’s been going on for years.

I’d like to suggest an unorthodox name to Direct the BOP, at a time when they seem to be most in need of a major shakeup, Bernard Kerik.

While Kerik might be best known as the former Commissioner of the NYPD, some of his greatest contributions to public service took place in the prison system, as he served as the Deputy Commissioner and then Commissioner of the NYC Department of Corrections. Love him or hate him, under his leadership, inmate violence (which was out of control and included the types of slashings and stabbings we generally only see on HBO) fell 90 percent, overtime costs shrunk by half, and sick leave was reduced by 25% (generally attributed to a tremendous improvement in staff morale).

What makes these numbers even more amazing is that they took place while the inmate population in city jails increased by 20%. Perhaps this success shouldn’t be surprising given Kerik’s previous track record as Chief and Warden of the Passaic County Jail in New Jersey.

Ultimately, what we need at BOP is someone who can ensure the safety and dignity of inmates and staff alike, while doing so in an efficient manner. Who better to turn to than the man who completely overhauled Jordan’s prison system (at the invitation of the King)?

Wait a minute, isn’t Bernard Kerik a convicted felon? Absolutely. That’s what makes him the perfect man for the job.

Having seen the inside of a federal prison, he has a unique perspective that other administrators and law enforcement professionals don’t. There’s a reason you hire a consultant who actually has experience in the field you’re working in.

Don’t forget what became of convicted fraudster Frank Abegnale, of “Catch Me If You Can” fame. He ended up teaching the federal government how to spot forged checks, etc. Why wouldn’t the same approach make sense for prisons? It’s no surprise that Kerik’s first remarks after being released from prison were to declare that our nation’s prison system was broken. What is a surprise is how little we’ve done in the ensuing 6 years to fix it.

Lastly, many people have pointed to the problems at the BOP and said the reasons for them have to do with funding cuts. Perhaps there’s some truth to that. If that’s the case, who better to champion the cause of adequate funding for the BOP than a man whose relationship with the Trump administration is so strong that it’s led to his direct involvement in crafting the First Step Act and the man who brought the case of Chief Eddie Gallagher (and the prosecutorial misconduct in his case) to the attention of President Trump?

It’s a no-brainer. I realize it’s an unorthodox solution, but presently, none of the orthodox solutions seem to be working.

Frank Morano is a radio talk show host on AM 970 The Answer in NYC and Managing Editor of "Liquid Lunch" on NewsmaxTV.

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Ultimately, what we need at BOP is someone who can ensure the safety and dignity of inmates and staff alike, while doing so in an efficient manner.
bernard kerik, bureau of prisons, reform
Tuesday, 12 November 2019 12:48 PM
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