Sessions just appointed an Army general to lead the civilian federal prison system

Trump sure does love his generals.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference about opioid addiction, Thursday, July 13, 2017, at the Justice Department in Washington. Credit: (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference about opioid addiction, Thursday, July 13, 2017, at the Justice Department in Washington. Credit: (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Just days after General John Kelly moved to White House Chief of Staff from his previous position as Secretary of Homeland Security, another general joins the ranks of Trump administration.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed General Mark S. Inch as the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on Tuesday.

Gen. Inch has served as a military policeman for nearly a quarter of a century and most recently was the head of Army Corrections, which Sessions says makes him “uniquely qualified” to oversee the division that handles all inmates accused of violating or have violated federal law. As of 2016, the U.S. federal prison system had a population of approximately 190,000 inmates across 122 facilities.

Incarceration in the United States is already punitive, not rehabilitative. In 2015, the Vera Institute found that roughly 75 percent of jail detainees are locked up for nonviolent crimes, whether convicted or awaiting trial. In March, the Prison Policy Initiative revealed 443,000 out of 630,000 people doing time in local jails haven’t even been convicted.

Although the federal prison system represents a relatively small portion of the total incarceration system, appointing generals to run it could risk moving the country further toward a retributive justice approach and away from a rehabilitative approach — a trend that is out of step with how most Americans believe prisons should operate.

Trump has made a habit of appointing retired generals to positions that are normally held by civilians. At one point during the transition, the Trump team had three in the cabinet: Gen. James Mattis for Secretary of Defense, Gen. John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security, and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for national security adviser.