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Attacks on Derek Chauvin and Larry Nasser Highlight Rampant Failures in Federal Prisons

Recent assaults on Derek Chauvin and Larry Nassar have renewed concerns about whether the chronically understaffed, crisis-plagued federal Bureau of Prisons is capable of keeping people in its custody safe, Michael R. Sisak and Michael Balsamo report for the Associated Press. Severe staffing shortages, staff-on-inmate abuse, broken surveillance cameras and crumbling infrastructure in federal prisons put all 158,000 federal prisoners at risk.

An ongoing Associated Press investigation has uncovered deep, previously unreported problems within the Bureau of Prisons, including rampant sexual abuse and other staff criminal conduct, dozens of escapes, chronic violence, deaths and severe staffing shortages that have hampered responses to emergencies, including inmate assaults and suicides. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has issued a pair of scathing reports citing management failures, flawed policies and widespread incompetence. The violence has challenged a perception — repeated by some lawyers and criminal justice experts quoted in the news media when Chauvin was sentenced last year — that federal prisons are far safer than state prisons or local jails.

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