04.04.18

SCHUMER REVEALS: JUST-PASSED SPENDING BILL PROVIDES OVER $270 MILLION IN FED FUNDS FOR BUREAU OF PRISONS, YET BROOKLYN’S METROPOLITAN DETENTION CENTER IS STILL WITHOUT A CHAPLAIN; SCHUMER RENEWS PUSH TO HIRE ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AT BROOKLYN’S FEDERAL PRISON USING NEWLY-SECURED FUNDS

Given the Large Catholic Population of Inmates, Schumer Last Year Called on BOP to Hire Roman Catholic Chaplain at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center; Senator Says Hiring a Catholic Chaplain Would Help Provide A Safer Environment & Help Ensure Inmates Can Seek Support & Properly Worship If They Choose 

Just-Passed Federal Omnibus Spending Bill Provides $7.28 Billion for Federal BOP, An Increase of $271M; Schumer Says Newly Secured Funds Can Be Tapped To Hire Catholic Chaplain 

On the heels of the just-passed omnibus bi-partisan spending bill, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer renewed his push for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to hire a Roman Catholic Chaplain for Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. The omnibus spending bill provides an increase of $270 million for the BOP, and Schumer says this can be used by BOP to hire a new Catholic chaplain for the Brooklyn prison. The prison has been without a Roman Catholic Chaplain since February 2017. With this newly secured funding, Schumer today urged the BOP to hire a Catholic Chaplain as quickly as possible. Schumer said that statistics show faith leaders help provide a safer environment for the entire criminal justice system and to those seeking their support.

“In the spirit of the Easter season and having just secured over $270 million in additional funds for the federal Bureau of Prisons, I am renewing my call for the Bureau to make the hire of a catholic chaplain as soon as possible. There’s simply no excuse for Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center to still be without a Catholic Chaplain,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “The Brooklyn Diocese has a number of priests who can do the job, and the BOP has new funds, so the BOP just needs to act. In light of the just-passed omnibus bi-partisan spending bill, the Federal Bureau of Prisons should immediately hire a full-time permanent Catholic Chaplain at this facility.” 

While the Metropolitan Detention Center has been without a permanent Catholic Chaplain since last February, there have been temporary solutions in place, but Schumer says these temporary and unstable conditions have continued for far too long. According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the Metropolitan Detention Center was able to cover services for Ash Wednesday and Holy Week services, but the monthly rotation of a chaplain limits stronger bonds from forming. 

The lack of a Roman Catholic Chaplain at the Metropolitan Detention Center has been a pressing issue among religious inmates and their relatives. According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn there are a number of priests who are eager on filling the position as chaplain for the Detention Center, but the Bureau of Prisons has yet to hire someone.

Schumer pointed to the just-passed omnibus spending bill, which included $7.28 billion for the federal BOP—an increase of $271 million from the year prior. Schumer said that the federal BOP can use a portion of these newly secured funds to hire a permanent chaplain at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. 

A copy of Schumer’s letter from last year is below: 

Dear Director Inch:

It has come to my attention via the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn that, since February of this year, the Metropolitan Detention Center located at 80 29th Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11232, has been without a Roman Catholic chaplain. Given the large Catholic population of inmates, and with the Christmas season upon us, I write today to urge the Federal Bureau of Prisons to immediately place a Roman Catholic Chaplain at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. 

The holiday season is approaching, and this is a time of extreme importance for those who celebrate Christmas. We must ensure that the inmates can properly worship if they choose to do so. The gap in maximally effective religious coverage at this facility is unfortunate and undermines the highest level of support that helps maintain a positive and safe environment for inmates and guards. 

It is my understanding that the Metropolitan Detention Center was able to cover services for Ash Wednesday and Holy Week services, and was later able to establish a monthly rotation with four priests from the Diocese of Brooklyn, but this is a patchwork solution. A much better solution is to promptly hire a Catholic Chaplain to directly serve the facility. 

There have been many complaints by the inmates and their relatives about the lack of a Roman Catholic Chaplain at the Metropolitan Detention Center. The Diocese of Brooklyn has assured me that there are priests that are willing and ready to fill the position of chaplain, but thus far the BOP has declined to hire a chaplain, citing a so-called hiring freeze and other issues. I strongly believe this can be worked out and again urge you to do what is necessary to hire a Catholic Chaplain with all due speed. I will, of course, help in any way I am able.

It is imperative that we resolve this issue before the Christmas holiday, as it is one of warmth, tradition, and spirit, and we must provide a way for the inmates to celebrate such joyful and important occasion with the proper spiritual support. Thank you for your consideration and response on this matter. I hope we can solve this issue before Christmas approaches, and wish you, too, a joyous holiday season.

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