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The Federal Bureau of Prisons' Drug Interdiction Activities

Report Number I-2003-002
January 2003



    U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Prisons

Office of the Director   Washington, DC 20534
December 6, 2002

FROM: (original signed)
Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
SUBJECT: Response to the Office of Inspector General's (OIG) Draft Report: The Bureau of Prisons' Drug Interdiction Activities

The Bureau of Prisons has reviewed your draft report entitled, The Bureau of Prisons' Drug Interdiction Activities. Although the report contains some good recommendations, we are unable to agree with several for reasons which will be more fully explained within this response. As always, we wish to work with the OIG in resolving these issues and look forward to closing this review to the mutual satisfaction of both our offices.

We were somewhat surprised with the methodology used to conduct this review. We fully appreciate the benefit of staff interviews/opinions in our own research but believe the report relies too heavily on staff interviews/opinions as primary evidence in supporting the recommendations. Our experience with internal review has shown staff interviews/opinions are not the best form of evidence and should be used to augment more statistically sound sources. Staff opinions naturally reflect a very parochial view, and though this view is often essential to a complete understanding of the issue at hand; we consider it ill-advised to use such testimony as a basis for national policy making.

There is also an absence of statistical support for many of the recommendations which was disturbing considering the magnitude of changes recommended. Non-contact visitation, and pat searching visitors and staff, involve changes to Bureau culture, practices, and an impact on resources we do not feel are necessary. The report provides no evidence these tactics deter the introduction of drugs in other correctional systems and no testimony is presented by state officials regarding the negative or positive aspects of these approaches on their systems. The absence of statistical support is most striking in the comparisons between selected state systems and the Bureau. Drug testing procedures, and test result reporting, pat search procedures and results, and the uses of such data vary greatly between systems. Without access to the data and sources used to support these recommendations, we cannot verify how similar systems/situations are being compared.

The limited scope of this review and subsequent recommendations provide us with the opportunity to highlight the significant progress we are making in our efforts against drug possession, use and introduction. The Bureau is constantly seeking new and reliable technologies to deploy in this effort, as well as better ways to educate staff and inmates on the dangers drugs pose for their lives and the work place. Although we agree there is room for improvement, we do not believe our efforts are inadequate or illustrate a lack of progress in this area.

Recommendation #1: The Director, BOP, should consider restricting contact visits for specific inmates and replace contact visits with non-contact visits for certain inmates or institutions based on an assessment of the individual institution's drug smuggling problem.

Response: The Bureau agrees with this recommendation and will consider restricting contact visits for specific inmates. The Bureau currently employs non-contact visitation for specific inmates and institutions; however, further restrictions involving non-contact visits could require the Bureau to incur significant costs with regard to staffing and construction. The benefits of this recommendation are considered minimal as inmates found guilty of drug use or introduction of drugs would most likely not be permitted visitation as a result of our imposed progressive loss of visiting sanctions. Additionally, instituting non- contact visiting for those institutions with a higher drug usage rate unfairly subjects the entire inmate population to a sanction applicable to only a small percentage of offenders. The limited scope of this review and the subsequent recommendation fails to recognize the adverse impact non-contact visiting would have for an entire population not sanctioned with a charge associated with the use, possession or introduction of drugs. Therefore, the Bureau of Prisons does not believe expanding our current policy would provide an acceptable solution for resolving drug smuggling problems without causing significant concerns in other areas of prison management.

The Bureau has consistently sought to encourage family ties by placing inmates as close to home as possible and otherwise facilitating contact with their families and communities through visitation. Additionally, family members, as a natural support group for offenders have a tremendous potential for assisting in the reintegration of offenders to community life. Visitation is considered important for maintaining social and family ties, which are in turn important for inmates' success within and outside of correctional facilities.

Recommendation #2: The Director, BOP, should consider implementing pat searches of visitors.

Response: The Bureau agrees with this recommendation, and will consider pat searching visitors. The review identified visitors as a primary source of drug introduction. The Bureau concurs with this observation. However, the report appears to lack supportive documentation indicating pat searches of visitors would be a successful drug interdiction method. As we make our determination in consideration of this recommendation, we will analyze the following information in our attempt to make the best decision: additional technologies available to detect drugs; increased staff requirements necessary to implement; and use of more aggressive and proactive investigations, urine surveillance testing, and progressive administrative/legal actions.

Recommendation #3: The Director, BOP, should invest in technology (such as cameras, monitors, ion spectrometry, or other emerging drug detection technologies) to provide institutions with a greater capability to screen and monitor visitors. The BOP should also ensure that existing technologies, such as ion spectrometry, cameras, monitors, and visitor monitoring rooms are used to their maximum capacity. Specifically, when ion spectrometry machines break down, they should be repaired in a timely manner. In addition, they should be used to detect drugs in other areas of the institutions. Cameras should be positioned to eliminate any blind spots in the visiting room. BOP should ensure that camera monitors and visitor monitoring rooms are used to view visits in progress.

Response: The Bureau agrees with this recommendation. The Bureau's Office of Security and Technology identifies and tests new technologies which may provide reliable and effective resources in our effort to eliminate the introduction of drugs. Each of the technologies identified in the review are currently approved for use throughout the Bureau. Timely repairs of malfunctioning equipment will continue to be a priority. Purchase options for drug detection equipment which is low-maintenance, easily transported, and easily operated will be explored to greater enhance narcotics prevention throughout institutions. The use of observational cameras with recording capabilities has been extremely valuable to visiting room staff, allowing them clandestine zoom/pan observation of suspicious activities. Although blind areas may be present in visiting rooms, staff are authorized to arrange seating assignments of visitors and inmates to meet the agency's security concerns. The Bureau supports and continues to pursue each of these initiatives but is restricted from broad and universal application of technological enhancements by the funding allocated to the agency.

Recommendation #4: The Director, BOP, should staff visiting rooms with enough correctional officers so that sufficient direct observation and monitoring of each visit can occur.

Response: The Bureau agrees with this recommendation. Institutions are provided the local discretion to determine the appropriate staffing level of visiting rooms based on use, available intelligence, and should ensure proper monitoring.

Recommendation #5: The Director, BOP, should implement a policy that restricts the size and content of property staff bring into BOP institutions.

Response: The Bureau agrees with this recommendation. The agency will develop and negotiate policy with the Union restricting the size and content of staff property allowed inside the institution. The Bureau anticipates completion of this requirement by December 2004.

Recommendation #6: The Director, BOP, should implement a policy requiring searches of staff and their property when entering institutions. In addition to manual searches, the BOP should consider using ion spectrometry and all other available technology when searching staff.

Response: The BOP does not agree with this recommendation, however, as noted in #5, we agree with restricting the size and content of property staff bring into the institution. Implementing staff pat searches requires us to consider the overall impact to the agency. Prior to considering such a major policy change for the agency, the Bureau would request OIG provide formal evaluation data from states who currently have such policies in effect to include pre/post studies of drug urinalysis rates prior to and after implementation of a staff search policy. Without this type of detailed information on which to base a decision, the Bureau strongly opposes this recommendation. This recommendation appears to be based on a limited number of interviews and surveys without considering the impact this would have on the agency or whether it would be a successful solution for the "small" number of drug introductions by staff. Overall, staff morale will suffer thereby creating unwarranted concerns in areas other than drug detection. Additionally, gender specific issues, the intrusive nature of such a search (comparable to those mentioned when discussing pat searching visitors), as well as issues regarding the impact such searches have in the overall reduction of drug introduction, are raised. Based on these concerns, the Bureau believes a more effective and productive means to deter staff introduction of drugs would be through the reduction of staff property entering the institution coupled with the processes currently in place, such as background investigations, integrity training, and other investigative procedures.

Recommendation #7: The Director, BOP, should implement random drug testing for staff.

Response: The Bureau agrees with this recommendation. On November 7, 2002, correspondence was issued to all institution Chief Executive Officers regarding the impending implementation of the Drug Free Workplace Program. The approximate implementation date of this program is January 2003.

Recommendation #8: The Director, BOP, should implement a policy that eliminates unsolicited mail.

Response: The Bureau agrees with this recommendation, and is currently determining what the agency can do legally to limit such mail. We will pursue the necessary regulatory and policy changes to effect such limits as appropriate. Based upon research, legal issues, and the implementation of policy to include union review, we expect an implementation date of December 2005.

Recommendation #9: The Director, BOP, should require additional training for BOP staff to search mail and detect drugs.

Response: The Bureau agrees with this recommendation, and has taken steps to ensure training classes for inmate systems officers include additional training. The Bureau implemented this requirement in November 2002.

Recommendation #10: The Director, BOP, should test mail room drug detection technologies.

Response: The Bureau agrees with this recommendation. The Inmate Systems Management Branch will work with the Office of Security and Technology to conduct research on mail room drug detection technology, conduct tests at appropriate locations, determine if technology is applicable Bureauwide, and present their findings to Bureau's Executive Staff. The Bureau anticipates a completion date of December 2005.

Recommendation #11: The Director, BOP, should maintain data, via improved SENTRY tracking, on the number of inmates who are diagnosed with a drug abuse problem and are referred for drug treatment, the number of inmates who participate in drug treatment, and the number who successfully complete drug treatment.

Response: The Bureau agrees with this recommendation. The Bureau currently has plans in place that comply with the intent of this recommendation, though through different procedures than are specified in the recommendation. The Bureau tracks, via SENTRY, the number of inmates who participate and complete all drug abuse education and treatment components. In addition, the Psychological Data System (PDS) is used by clinical staff to document a clinical diagnosis for inmates seeking and participating in Bureau psychological services.

Two policy changes are currently under review that will improve the tracking of inmates entering the Bureau with substance use disorders:

First, the Bureau has drafted a proposed regulation that would expand the group of inmates who must participate in the drug education course. The current categories include: (1) referral by the sentencing judge; (2) a violation of supervised release due to drug use; and (3) evidence that drugs or alcohol contributed to the instant offense. The proposed regulation includes one additional category for inmates with a history of substance use.

Second, drug abuse program policy has been revised and submitted for approval to improve the sequence of identification, screening, assessment and referral of inmates with drug use disorders. This sequence will occur prior to an identified inmate's completion of the drug education course.

With the expansion of the drug education categories, the Bureau will create a PDS database to track inmates with a substance abuse problem, or who receive a diagnosis for a substance abuse disorder, and are referred to the appropriate course of treatment.

The final rule to allow the additional drug education category was forwarded to DOJ on October 26, 2001. These policy revisions will take between 1 to 3 years to implement. The Bureau anticipates completion of this requirement by December 2005.

Recommendation #12: The Director, BOP, should sufficiently staff non-residential drug treatment programs based on a combination of the DATS staffing guidelines and the number of inmates at each institution who have been identified in SENTRY as needing drug treatment.

Response: The Bureau does not agree with this recommendation. The drug abuse program policy (5330.10), establishes staff-to-inmate ratios for residential drug abuse programs only. Residential programs provide intensive, long-term treatment with no less than one group a day with a specified group of participants.

Non-residential treatment is a less intensive effort (see response to recommendation 13). It is flexible in application, based on the needs of the inmate and the institutional environment. Non-residential drug abuse treatment requires the institution's drug abuse program coordinator to work closely with the drug abuse treatment specialist in the development of the program structure and content. Every institution is provided a drug abuse treatment specialist for the sole purpose of providing drug abuse education and non-residential treatment. Additionally, each institution is provided with a drug abuse program coordinator to oversee the programs and their compliance with policy.

To bring the current institution complement to the staffing guidelines for residential drug treatment is cost prohibitive. To do so would add an additional 200 staff to drug abuse programs at an estimated annual cost of $13,463,000, based on 2003 salaries and benefits. This initiative is not funded.

Recommendation #13: The Director, BOP, should revise Program Statement 5330.10, Drug Abuse Programs Manual, to require that non-residential drug treatment is provided to inmates in the general population, in addition to transitional services for the RDAP graduates. The program statement should include a curriculum for non-residential drug treatment and guidance regarding the minimum number of sessions and the minimum number of weeks' duration for the groups. The Director, BOP, should also increase emphasis on self-help groups to enhance the overall drug treatment program and the inmates' recovery and rehabilitation.

Response: The Bureau does not agree with this recommendation. The Bureau designed its drug abuse treatment strategy based on literature and research that defines the key elements for successful drug abuse treatment outcomes. These elements are the foundation for the Bureau's residential drug abuse program. To ensure the Bureau has effective treatment programming, the majority of resources are directed to residential treatment programs that include these evidence-based elements: a cognitive-behavioral philosophy of treatment; unit-based programs; staff-to-inmate ratios of 1:24; comprehensive assessment; program participation of 9 months and 500 hours minimum; individual treatment plans; a minimum of 3 hours of drug treatment programming each day; core group and individual treatment; criminal lifestyle intervention; lifestyle balance training; transitional living issues; full team reviews; and treatment occurring at the end of the offender's sentence, followed by a comprehensive community transition program.

The non-residential drug abuse treatment program was never considered to be a parallel program to the residential program. Non-residential treatment was designed to provide maximum flexibility to meet the needs of the offender, particularly those individuals who have a relatively minor or low-level substance abuse impairment. These offenders do not require the intensive levels of treatment needed by individuals with moderate-to-severe addictive behavioral problems. A second purpose of the program is to provide those offenders who have a moderate to severe drug abuse problem with the supportive program opportunities during the time they are waiting to enter the residential drug abuse program or for those who have little time remaining on their sentence and are preparing to return to the community.

That does not mean non-residential drug abuse treatment and self- help programs are not of use to many inmates who are recruited into the program through admissions & orientation or by way of a staff referral. By policy, (P.S. 5330.10, Chapter 1, pg. 4), all institutions in the Bureau employ a drug abuse treatment specialist who is responsible for providing drug abuse education and non-residential drug abuse treatment services to the inmate population under the supervision of the drug abuse treatment coordinator.

Guidance for non-residential treatment format, content and structure is provided in policy (P.S. 5330.10, Chapter 4, pg. 1, 4.2). This includes time frames, clinical topics and formats, and direction in the use of the drug abuse program curriculum.

In 1991 a new drug abuse program curriculum was released offering a facilitator's guide and inmate journals that can be used in non-residential treatment programs. A further revision to the curriculum now underway, will improve the applicability and guidance for drug abuse treatment specialists and drug abuse program coordinators in the structure and use of the curriculum in non-residential treatment. Additionally, policy has been revised and submitted for approval to further detail the role of the drug abuse program coordinator in non-residential drug abuse treatment in terms of program design, development, monitoring, oversight, and clinical and administrative supervision.

Self-help groups are offered for Bureau offenders in support of the treatment opportunities that are available. Self-help volunteers provide services in the institution and offer support in the community, upon the inmate's transfer to the community corrections center. Of all the Bureau's volunteers, approximately 10 percent provide self-help activities and support to inmates with substance use problems.

The Bureau believes that Program Statement 5330.10, Drug Abuse Programs, Inmate, already addresses each of the recommendations detailed. However, the policy and the drug treatment curriculum are being revised, and the Bureau will provide further definition for the drug abuse coordinators as it relates to non-residential drug abuse treatment. The Bureau anticipates issuance of the revised policy and curricula by December 2004.

Recommendation #14: The Director, BOP, should develop incentives for participation in non-residential drug treatment and consequences for non-completion, with the objective of increasing the number of inmate volunteers for drug treatment. As part of the incentives and consequences, the Director, BOP, should consider adding a separate score for drug treatment participation in the inmate's annual Security Designation and Custody Classification Review.

Response: The Bureau does not agree with the first part of this recommendation. Creating incentives and sanctions for non- residential treatment, would in essence, be a disincentive to enroll in residential programs for those inmates with the most severe treatment need. The Bureau concentrates its treatment resources into the residential program, a program that has been proven effective within a correctional environment. To better identify and treat all inmates who need residential/intensive treatment, rather than just those who volunteer, the Bureau's Executive Staff approved in 1998 a balanced approach of incentives and disincentives to encourage inmate participation in the Bureau's drug treatment programs. The Bureau is awaiting rules clearance for the incentives and disincentives program from the DOJ prior to implementation.

The implementation plan includes identifying inmates with a substance use disorder, and placing them either directly into (or on the waiting list for) the residential drug abuse program. Treating inmates with severe drug disorders with a non- residential program is ineffective. These individuals, who are also criminals, require intensive, long term, structured treatment. Using a less intensive treatment option does a disservice to the inmate and to the community. Therefore, the Bureau has concentrated incentives for residential treatment involvement.

The Bureau is in the process of modifying the Security Designation and Custody Classification form to reflect an inmate's participation in all program areas in the Bureau. This will include an inmate's participation in drug abuse treatment programming.

The Bureau anticipates policy/program implementation will be completed by December 2005.

Recommendation #15: The Director, BOP, should consider the other opportunities to improve drug interdiction activities for the R&D and warehouse areas, the rear gate, volunteers, contractors, and institution intelligence operations. The BOP also should consider another pilot test of canines as a drug detection technique for its institutions.

Response: The Bureau partially agrees with this recommendation. As outlined in the response to Recommendation #3, the Bureau supports the establishment of new initiatives in the pursuit of reducing drugs within the institutions. Canine units are a resource each region is currently authorized to pursue at one institution. Although authorization is present to maintain a canine program at one facility per region, we do not believe an expansion of this policy is appropriate at this time. Specifically, canine units require a significant amount of financial and staff resources. Routine expenditures involving training of both staff and the canine, purchase and subsequent care is a major concern when determining the overall effectiveness of the program. Additionally, these resources are usually available within the local community for use upon request. This resource provides a service to the Bureau and also provides local law enforcement the opportunity to train and test their canines. We utilize these valuable resources and believe this cooperation strengthens our efforts of reducing drugs and enhances our relationship with local law enforcement.

If you have any questions regarding this response, please contact Michael W. Garrett, Senior Deputy Assistant Director, Program Review Division, at (202) 616-2099.