Mr. GREEN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
Mr. Chairman, I have enormous respect for the author of this bill and, of course, I do for the chairman of this bill, but I must oppose this legislation. I oppose it on prison safety grounds, I oppose it on fiscal grounds, and I oppose it because I believe it will increase recidivism and crime.
FPI in my view is a critical tool in our justice system. It helps us manage prison safety at a time when everyone here knows that prison populations are exploding. It helps us increase the chances for prisoners to become law-abiding successful citizens upon their release, and it does all of this without costing the taxpayers one dime.
Now, FPI, Federal Prison Industries, has not been a perfect program. That is why it is being reformed and improved, and I agree that more work should be done. But this bill, the bill before us today would essentially destroy FPI and all of the benefits that it provides.
As a result of recent changes, FPI has already had to lay off over 1,700 inmates. H.R. 1829 will greatly exacerbate those numbers and create a volatile, dangerous situation in our prison system.
Now, as I said earlier, I oppose this bill also on fiscal grounds. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill will cost taxpayers nearly $590 million over the next 5 years. On the other hand, FPI costs taxpayers not a dime. Seventy-three percent of the earnings from FPI goes to purchases from the private sector for raw materials, parts, and services. These contracts are with businesses all across the country, and nearly two-thirds of those are with small, female, minority, and disadvantaged
businesses. These private contracts keep an estimated 5,000 private sector workers employed. Twenty percent of FPI's earnings are paid to staff.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, H.R. 1829, on the other hand, would cost an additional $177 million over 5 years. That is nearly $35.4 million a year just for the extra security that will be necessary to supervise prisoners who are no longer working due to the elimination of FPI.
Mr. Chairman, this bill will harm prison safety. It will cost us over $100 million a year. It will cost us 5,000 private sector jobs. We should be supporting programs that will prevent recidivism. We should be supporting programs that will help secure prison and public safety. We should be supporting programs that work with small local businesses all across the country. FPI does that; H.R. 1829 does not. That is why the bill is opposed by Prison Fellowship, by the American Federation of Government
Employees, and as we heard just a few moments ago, by the Fraternal Order of Police.
Mr. Chairman, these are days in which we have to be looking for ways to break the cycle of crime and violence. We know what works. The work ethic works. Teaching the work ethic, reinforcing the work ethic, that is how we maximize the chances of success for prisoners upon release. We have seen it day in and day out. We know that it works.
I think it is extraordinarily sad that we take up legislation today that would destroy that. That would undo the one thing that we know works.