Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today the release of a report examining the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) management of inmate placements in Residential Reentry Centers (RRC), formally known as halfway houses, and home confinement. From October 2013 through March 2016, the BOP spent $921 million on RRCs and home confinement. The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that while BOP’s RRC and home confinement placement policies generally appear reasonable, those policies were not always followed. We also identified several deficiencies in the BOP’s management of RRCs and home confinement.
BOP places inmates into RRCs and home confinement prior to the expiration of their prison sentence to help them transition back into society. From October 2013 through April 2016, more than 94 thousand inmates released from BOP custody were eligible for placement in an RRC or home confinement. BOP placed 79 percent of these eligible inmates into RRCs or home confinement – 75 percent were initially placed in RRCs and 4 percent went directly into home confinement. The remaining 21 percent were released directly from a BOP institution back into society.
The specific findings in today’s report include:
- Placement decisions: Contrary to BOP policy, guidance, and relevant research, BOP’s RRC and home confinement placement decisions are not based on inmates’ security classification and risk for recidivism, which are important indicators of an inmate’s need for transitional services. Rather, we found that BOP is placing the great majority of eligible inmates into RRCs regardless of these considerations, unless the inmate is deemed not suitable for such placement because the inmate poses a significant threat to the community. As a result, high-risk inmates with a high need for transitional services are less likely to be placed in an RRC or home confinement, and are correspondingly more likely to be released back into society directly from BOP institutions without transitional programming.
- Use of home confinement: There is strong indication that BOP is underutilizing direct home confinement placement as an alternative to RRCs for low-risk, low-need inmates. Placement in an RRC can negatively impact these inmates by, among other things, exposing them to higher- risk offenders in those facilities. Yet we found that BOP placed only 6 percent of eligible minimum- and low-security inmates directly into home confinement. Among all eligible inmates, only 4 percent were placed directly into home confinement. Our analysis also indicates that in an effort to increase RRC capacity, BOP may be transitioning some inmates from RRCs to home confinement too early, as evidenced by our finding that 17 percent of the 39,020 inmates placed into home confinement during the scope of our audit were subsequently placed back into RRCs for violating home confinement program rules.
- Limited capacity: From October 2013 through March 2016, the RRC population remained at about 101 percent of contracted capacity, while the home confinement population averaged nearly 159 percent of contracted capacity, despite BOP’s underutilization of it as an alternative to RRC placement. The home confinement capacity issues resulted, at least in part, from BOP’s policy to aggressively pursue transitioning inmates from RRCs to home confinement as soon as possible in an effort to increase RRC capacity.
- Performance measurement and contract monitoring: BOP does not have performance measures that evaluate the efficacy of its RRC and home confinement programming, nor does BOP have procedures in place that adequately assess the quality of services provided by RRC contractors.
The report released today makes 5 recommendations to address these concerns and improve BOP’s management of inmate placements in RRCs and home confinement. BOP agreed with all 5 recommendations.
Report: Today’s report is available on the OIG’s website at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2016/a1701.pdf.
Video: To accompany today’s report, the OIG has released a 3-minute video featuring the Inspector General summarizing the report’s findings. The video and a downloadable transcript are available at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/multimedia/.