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DOJ OIG Releases Report on the BOP’s Monitoring of Inmate Communications to Prevent Radicalization

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today the release of a report on the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) monitoring of inmate communications to prevent radicalization within its institutions. The DOJ Office of the Inspector General identified significant deficiencies with the BOP’s monitoring of high-risk and terrorist inmates’ communications.

The specific findings in the report released today include:

  • The BOP did not identify all terrorist inmates admitted into its institutions. BOP policy requires that all communications of high risk inmates, including terrorist inmates, are monitored.However, the OIG found that 28 incarcerated international and domestic terrorist inmates had not been identified by the BOP at the time the audit was initiated, and thus the BOP did not adequately monitor their communications.  The OIG determined that the primary reason BOP did not know about these 28 inmates’ nexus to terrorism was because the information provided to the BOP by other federal agencies was insufficient.
  • The BOP needs to improve its monitoring of inmate communications. The BOP provides multiple communication channels to inmates, which may include email, phone calls, postage mail, and video sessions, depending on the individual’s threat level.   However, the OIG found that the BOP did not monitor all terrorist inmate communications as required by policy, and did not adequately prevent some inmates from circumventing certain communication controls. Further, the BOP does not have a mechanism to confirm that communications are fully monitored by BOP staff, which resulted in thousands of terrorist inmate communications being only partially monitored.
  • The BOP’s monitoring technology is inadequate for monitoring certain high-risk inmates.  The OIG found that terrorist inmates who had been placed under a Special Administrative Measure requiring 100-percent live communication monitoring by the sponsoring law enforcement agency were not being monitored effectively because of the technological limitations of the BOP’s monitoring capabilities.
  • The BOP’s controls to prevent inmates from sharing potentially harmful discovery material are inadequate.  Inmates preparing for trial are entitled to review certain discovery materials when preparing their defense.  For charges related to terrorism, these materials may include images, videos, or documents that could potentially be used to help radicalize other inmates.  The OIG found one occurrence where an individual being detained on terrorism charges provided digital copies of radical material obtained through the discovery process to another inmate.

Today’s report makes 17 recommendations to the BOP and 2 recommendations to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) that will strengthen the BOP’s monitoring efforts. The BOP and the ODAG agreed with all 19 recommendations.

Report: This report is available on the OIG’s website under “Recent Reports” and at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2020/a20042.pdf.

Video:  To accompany today’s report, the OIG has released a 2-minute video featuring the Inspector General discussing the report’s findings. The video and a downloadable transcript are available at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/multimedia/video-03-25-20.htm.


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