Washington, D.C.'s Corrections Information Council, the city agency charged with monitoring conditions affecting 9,000 D.C. inmates, had no members from 2005 to 2012, which made it quite impossible to monitor anything. Now, reports the Washington Post, it’s back in business, thanks to three appointments made last year by Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council after pressure from inmate advocates. Its mission, if not impossible, is exceedingly difficult by any standard.
In a city where three out of four African American men will serve time in prison, two-thirds of its inmates are housed in 100 different federal Bureau of Prisons institutions from Pennsylvania to California. More than 1,000 of them are more than 500 miles from the District, in places such as Tuscon, Coleman, Fl., and Yazoo City, Ms. The council, commonly called the CIC, with its volunteer board, one full-time staffer and a budget of about $130,000, is charged with keeping an eye on all of them. “The whole point behind the Corrections Information Council is for a representative of D.C. to go into these facilities where average D.C. resident can’t,” said Michelle Bonner, whom Gray appointed chair. She is director of legal services for Our Place D.C., a nonprofit that serves formerly incarcerated women.