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As many of you know, Congress and the President passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, otherwise known as the federal budget, this past week.  The bill funds the government until the end of September 2017. Remember, the fiscal year of the government is October 1 to September 30.

We are still waiting to hear about specific reforms to the government and the bureau of prisons.  As we find those I will let you know.  The text of the bill is below:

Salaries and Expenses (including transfer of funds)

For necessary expenses of the Federal Prison System for the administration, operation, and maintenance of Federal penal and correctional institutions, and for the provision of technical assistance and advice on corrections related issues to foreign governments, $7,008,800,000:  Provided, That the Attorney General may transfer to the Department of Health and Human Services such amounts as may be necessary for direct expenditures by that Department for medical relief for inmates of Federal penal and correctional institutions:

Provided further, That the Director of the Federal Prison System, where necessary, may enter into contracts with a fiscal agent or fiscal intermediary claims processor to determine the amounts payable to persons who, on behalf of the Federal Prison System, furnish health services to individuals committed to the custody of the Federal Prison System:

Provided further, That not to exceed $5,400 shall be available for official reception and representation expenses:

Provided further, that not to exceed $50,000,000 shall remain available for necessary operations until September 30, 2018:

Provided further that, of the amounts provided for contract confinement, not to exceed $20,000,000 shall remain available until expended to make payments in advance for grants, contracts and reimbursable agreements, and other expenses:

Provided further, That the Director of the Federal Prison System may accept donated property and services relating to the operation of the prison card program from a not-for-profit entity which has operated such program in the past, notwithstanding the fact that such not-for-profit entity furnishes services under contracts to the Federal Prison System relating to the operation of pre-release services, halfway houses, or other custodial facilities.

Buildings and Facilities

For planning, acquisition of sites and construction of new facilities; purchase and acquisition of facilities and remodeling, and equipping of such facilities for penal and correctional use, including all necessary expenses incident thereto, by contract or force account; and constructing, remodeling, and equipping necessary buildings and facilities at existing penal and correctional institutions, including all necessary expenses incident thereto, by contract or force account, $130,000,000, to remain available until expended, of which $50,000,000 shall be available only for costs related to construction of new facilities:

Provided, that labor of United States prisoners may be used for work performed under this appropriation.

Federal Prison Industries, Incorporated

The Federal Prison Industries, Incorporated, is hereby authorized to make such expenditures within the limits of funds and borrowing authority available, and in accord with the law, and to make such contracts and commitments without regard to fiscal year limitations as provided by section 9104 of title 31, United States Code, as may be necessary in carrying out the program set forth in the budget for the current fiscal year for such corporation.

Limitation on Administrative Expenses, Federal Prison Industries, Incorporated 

Not to exceed $2,700,000 of the funds of the Federal Prison Industries, Incorporated, shall be available for its administrative expenses, and for services as authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, to be computed on an accrual basis to be determined in accordance with the corporation’s current prescribed accounting system, and such amounts shall be exclusive of depreciation, payment of claims, and expenditures which such accounting system requires to be capitalized or charged to cost of commodities acquired or produced, including selling and shipping expenses, and expenses in connection with acquisition, construction, operation, maintenance, improvement, protection, or disposition of facilities and other property belonging to the corporation or in which it has an interest.

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Have you or a loved one been charged with or convicted of a federal crime? You need an experienced Federal Defense Lawyer who can help fight for your freedom. Because we are good at what we do, we have clients from all over the country to count on us to provide them with competent and reasonably priced services.

The law office of Jeremy Gordon is dedicated and focused on powerfully and effectively representing our clients. We look forward to the opportunity to discuss your case with you. Contact us today for a free consultation and initial case review at 972-483-4865 or email us at [email protected]. Payment plans available.

“Prisoners have a Sixth Amendment right to be present when legal mail related to a criminal matter is inspected,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held. See: Mangiaracina v. Penzone, No. 14-15271 (9th Cir. 2017).

Nick Mangiaracina, an Arizona prisoner, sued jail officials after his properly marked legal mail was opened twice. Mangiaracina filed grievances about the opening of his legal mail. Mangiaracina also alleged that jail staff told him that they“’can open legal mail outside our presence if they want to,’ that there is no law against it, and that ‘they just do it in our presence as a courtesy.’”

While Mangiaracina’s legal mail was only opened twice outside his presence, the Ninth Circuit held that “even isolated incidents of improper mail opening may, in appropriate circumstances, be sufficient to allege a Sixth Amendment violation.”

Jail officials argued that Mangiaracina was also required to allege that his mail was actually read by guards, but the Ninth Circuit disagreed.

“If the practice of opening legal mail in the presence of the prisoner is designed to prevent correctional officers from reading it, then the natural corollary is that a prisoner whose mail is opened outside his presence has no way of knowing whether it had been (permissibly) inspected or (impermissibly) read. In other words, Mangiaracina could not in good faith have alleged that jail employees had read his mail, since he had no basis for knowing what had happened to his mail prior to delivery,” the court wrote.

The court also concluded that jail officials could not “identify any legitimate penological interest that would be served by opening legal mail outside Mangiaracina’s presence,” citing the jail’s own policy that required legal mail to be opened in the presence of inmates. “Defendants have identified no reason in their briefing for deviating from this policy. No special deference is therefore required,” the court held.

The district court’s dismissal of Mangiaracina’s suit was accordingly reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

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Have you or a loved one been charged with or convicted of a federal crime? You need an experienced Federal Defense Lawyer who can help fight for your freedom. Because we are good at what we do, we have clients from all over the country to count on us to provide them with competent and reasonably priced services.

The law office of Jeremy Gordon is dedicated and focused on powerfully and effectively representing our clients. We look forward to the opportunity to discuss your case with you. Contact us today for a free consultation and initial case review at 972-483-4865 or email us at [email protected]. Payment plans available.