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5 reasons to celebrate General Mark Inch as new BOP director

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ selection of General Mark S. Inch as the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons is excellent news for corrections


Sessions announced Tuesday that General Mark S. Inch would lead the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Photo/U.S. Army

Earlier this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the selection of General Mark S. Inch as the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). General Inch will be the first BOP Director to be selected from outside the agency – all of his predecessors have been promoted from within the organization.

“General Mark Inch has served this country at home and abroad for 35 years,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement issued by the DOJ.

“As a military policeman for nearly a quarter of a century and as the head of Army Corrections for the last two years, General Inch is uniquely qualified to lead our federal prison system. My confidence that he will be a highly effective leader of the Federal Bureau of Prisons is second only to my gratitude for his willingness to continue his service to this great country in this critical role,” Sessions said.

Here are five reasons why AG Sessions’ selection of General Inch to be the next BOP Director is great news for that agency – and corrections as a whole.

1. His education is ideal for the job of leading BOP

General Inch’s military education includes the Military Police Officer Basic and Advance Courses, the Command and General Staff College, the Joint and Combined Warfighting School and the Senior Service College Fellowship – Advanced Operational Arts Studies. He completed professional certification with the American Correctional Association and was the first member to earn the Certified Corrections Executive designation with Honor.

As Sessions said in his statement announcing the appointment, it is clear that General Inch is “uniquely qualified” for this new assignment.

2. He has wide-ranging experience in running large correctional organizations

General Inch most recently served as the Provost Marshal General and Commanding General of the Criminal Investigation Command and Army Corrections at Headquarters for the Department of the Army. He previously held the role of Commanding General of the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was responsible for Detainee Operations and Rule of Law Development within the Army’s Security Sector.

His experience in these posts will not only have an immediate effect on BOP, but correctional leaders in state and county facilities will have an excellent role model at the top.

3. His decorations indicate an outstanding career of service

General Inch’s awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, a series of Unit, Campaign and Service medals, and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

These are not easy decorations to get. The fact that he has achieved such significant recognition for his devoted service is an indicator he will put that same passion into his new mission atop BOP.

4. His determination in the face of daunting challenges will serve BOP well

General Inch’s 35-year record of faithful and dedicated service indicates an ability to meet challenges head on, and the head of BOP under AG Sessions will certainly face challenges.

According to a report in the Washington Examiner, the Federal Bureau of Prisons had a population of approximately 190,000 inmates across 122 facilities as of 2016, and that according to federal data, 46 percent of the inmates are incarcerated for drug crimes.

With Sessions’ stated desire to aggressively go after drug- and gang-related criminals, that population is likely to increase. General Inch will not shrink from the challenges he will face when it does.

5. His appointment has already been celebrated by corrections professionals

“In my opinion, we’ll see a shift in priority. For the last few years, rehabilitation has superseded punishment. I believe General Mark Inch will find the needed balance between punishment and rehabilitation. I think he has a good perspective of the world we work in and will implement changes that are geared towards increasing safety and security for staff as well as the inmate population.”
Anthony Gangi, Corrections1 Contributor

“As a corrections practitioner, I do not have any problems with a retired general running BOP. I worked for several retired military ‘brass’ during my jail career. They tend to be no nonsense and are focused on operations going smoothly. Another perspective on this is the Trump administration’s goal to expand the use of private prison beds, reversing the Obama administration’s doctrine of reducing private prisons’ associations with the BOP. Since private corrections have been criticized for poor operations, profit motive, etc., I am betting that AG Sessions wants a strong man at the helm. Correctional facilities run better with strong administrators.”
Gary Cornelius, Corrections1 Contributor

“General Mark Inch has credibility because he served as head of the Army Corrections for a few years. During his 35 years in the military, he gained invaluable experience in law enforcement and correctional-related issues. He is a professional who will make significant changes to the agency. BOP staff will keep an eye on how Inch works on high-profile issues with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The use of private prisons will be high on their list because the Trump administration reversed the Obama position to discontinue private prisons. General Inch will be tested. It will be interesting to see how the BOP deals with their change in leadership. This is new for the agency, but overall should bring positive results. General Inch will bring order and direction to the BOP.”
Bob Hood, Corrections1 Contributor

“General Mark Inch brings a wealth of experience to the Bureau of Prisons. A review of his resume indicates involvement in every aspect of law enforcement from policing, to investigations and corrections. The hope is that General Inch will work to ensure that staff working in facilities will have the tools and support they need to perform their mission while also staying safe.”
Rusty Ringler, Corrections1 Contributor


Okay, that’s my take. What are your thoughts? Is General Inch good news for the BOP? Sound off in the comments section below.

Doug Wyllie is a senior contributor for Corrections1, providing police training content on a wide range of topics and trends affecting the law enforcement community. Doug hosts PoliceOne’s Policing Matters podcast.

Doug is the 2014 Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column, and has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Contact Doug Wyllie.