The Federal Bureau of Prisons' Drug Interdiction Activities
Report Number I-2003-002
OIG'S ANALYSIS OF THE BOP'S RESPONSE
On October 31, 2002, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) sent copies of the draft report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) with a request for written comments. The BOP responded on December 6, 2002. Of the report's 15 recommendations, the BOP agreed with 10, partially agreed with 2, and disagreed with 3 recommendations. The BOP's disagreements largely concern the report's recommendations for searches of staff and their property when they enter BOP institutions and the increased use of non-residential drug treatment programs. In addition, the BOP expressed general concerns regarding the methodology upon which our recommendations are based. Our analysis of the BOP's response follows.
With regard to the methodology, the BOP's response states that while the BOP appreciated the benefit of staff interviews and opinions, our report "relies too heavily on staff interviews/opinions as primary evidence in supporting the recommendations." The BOP asserts that such interviews "naturally reflect a parochial view." The BOP's response also states that staff interviews/opinions are not the best form of evidence and "should be used to augment more statistically sound sources…we consider it ill-advised to use such testimony as a basis for national policy making." The BOP's response states that our recommendations involve changes to BOP culture, practices, and resources, and there is "an absence of statistical support for many of the recommendations which was disturbing considering the magnitude of changes recommended."
We disagree with the BOP's assertions. Our methodology included not only staff interviews but also direct observation of BOP operations, review of cases involving introduction of drugs into BOP institutions, and interviews of other federal law enforcement officials, such as agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the OIG with responsibility for investigating the introduction of drugs into BOP institutions. We also reviewed information about the practices of 17 state correctional systems that employ various methods of drug interdiction. In addition, we conducted statistical analyses of existing BOP data in our assessment of its drug interdiction strategy, including an extensive statistical analysis of positive inmate drug tests and drug misconduct charges; data analysis of drug finds in institutions; analysis of drug cases involving visitors, inmates, or staff; analysis of drug overdoses; and analysis of the number of inmates treated in relation to the number of inmates estimated to have drug problems. We also evaluated the BOP's drug interdiction strategy to identify the activities it uses to reduce the flow of drugs into institutions. In many cases, we found that interdiction activities used by the states are not employed by the BOP.
The BOP's response appears to suggest that a recommendation is valid only if it is based on statistical evidence. We believe such a perspective is too narrow. First, the existing data and available statistical studies do not measure the impact of individual interdiction activities. When states have attempted to measure the effectiveness of specific interdiction activities, they have had difficulty isolating the effect of one interdiction activity from another interdiction activity or group of interdiction activities that are employed simultaneously. The BOP experienced this same difficulty when testing the ion spectrometry technology to randomly screen visitors. In its report on the ion spectrometry pilot project, the BOP stated, "Although we conclude that the visitor drug testing program was a significant factor in the decreases [of inmates' positive drug tests], given the research design, we cannot precisely say how much of the decrease was due to the use of ion spectrometry and how much was the result of other programmatic changes in the Bureau's drug policy."
Moreover, although the information from the state correctional systems does not evaluate the effectiveness of each individual interdiction activity, the state information does show that a mix of interdiction activities, many of which are similar to the ones we recommend, can reduce the amount of drugs entering institutions as measured by rates of inmates' positive drug tests. For example, one study measured the impact of the Pennsylvania state correctional system's implementation of its Drug Interdiction Program, which included activities similar to ones we recommend, including searches of visitors and staff. The study found that the combination of interdiction activities Pennsylvania implemented between 1996 and 1998 reduced the percentage of inmates who had drugs in their system, as tested by inmate hair samples, from 7.8 percent to 1.4 percent. See "Reducing Drugs in Prisons," National Institute of Justice Journal, October 1999. While the study did not attempt to differentiate the effectiveness of each interdiction activity because the activities were introduced at around the same time, it did show the overall effectiveness of a group of interdiction activities similar to those we recommend. We believe the BOP should not wait to implement reasonable interdiction activities, such as the ones we recommend, by citing the absence of state data on a specific interdiction activity recommended in our report.
Contrary to the BOP's response, we do not believe that the information provided in interviews we conducted reflected "parochial" views of BOP staff. We interviewed more than 100 BOP managers and staff who are on the front lines in protecting the security of institutions and treating inmates' drug problems. The managers and staff we interviewed had many years of correctional experience at many institutions. We believe that considering the informed views of front-line managers and staff is essential to developing effective recommendations to correct systemic problems.
Finally, the BOP notes that some of our recommendations would involve changes to the BOP's culture and practices. We agree, but believe that such changes - while they may be difficult - should be made, given the importance of reducing the availability of drugs in BOP's institutions. The BOP's failure to implement new interdiction activities, such as those that we recommend and which have been frequently adopted on the state level, results in significant gaps in the BOP's drug interdiction strategy.
We now turn to each of our recommendations and analyze the BOP's response.
Recommendation 1: Resolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP agrees with Recommendation 1 to consider restricting contact visits for specific inmates or institutions based on an assessment of the institutions' drug smuggling problem. The BOP, however, does not believe that expanding its current policy for non-contact visits would provide an acceptable solution to drug smuggling problems and would cause significant concern in other areas of prison management. The BOP states that the benefits of this recommendation are minimal, because inmates found guilty of drug use or introduction of drugs would most likely not be permitted visitation as a result of loss of visiting privileges imposed by the Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO). The BOP also notes concerns with staffing and construction costs, and the effect of non-contact visits on inmates not involved in drug use or smuggling.
OIG's Analysis. We found that only 2 (USP Marion and AD-MAX Florence) of 102 BOP institutions impose non-contact visits for the entire inmate population due to the high security threat risk of the inmates. At other BOP institutions, contact visits are allowed and are not automatically suspended for inmates' possession or use of drugs. After interviewing eight DHOs during our site visits, we also found that the DHOs' philosophies and sanctions levied for drug misconduct charges varied widely. To suspend contact visits, some DHOs believed that the use or possession of a drug must be linked directly to an incident in the visiting room. Other DHOs do not impose non-contact visits as a sanction because they question its deterrent value when the inmate has infrequent visitors. A few DHOs consistently imposed loss of visiting privileges for a specified period of time (such as 30, 60, 90 days or more) if an inmate is found guilty of a drug misconduct charge. When this sanction is completed, the inmate resumes contact visits. We believe that such wide variance in sanctions should be reviewed by the BOP, and that non-contact visits should be used more widely for inmates who commit drug offenses in BOP institutions.
In addition to inmates who are found guilty of drug-related misconduct charges, we also believe that the BOP should consider establishing non-contact visits for other categories of inmates, such as inmates in disciplinary or administrative segregation, inmates who are members of security threat groups or disruptive groups, or inmates on the drug testing suspect list.
For BOP institutions with high rates of positive inmate drug tests, drug misconduct charges, and gang activity (which is often associated with drug smuggling and drug use in institutions), the BOP also should consider implementing non-contact visits on a broader basis to gain control of the drug problem. Overall, we believe the BOP should develop a systematic strategy for making better use of non-contact visits to reduce the availability of drugs in its institutions and drug use by inmates.
Please provide us with the BOP's decision for implementing broader use of non-contact visits by April 4, 2003.
Recommendation 2: Resolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP agrees with Recommendation 2 to consider pat searching visitors; however, the BOP believes that the OIG report lacks supporting documentation indicating that pat searches would be a successful drug interdiction method. In deciding whether to implement this recommendation, the BOP states that it will consider (1) additional technologies to detect drugs, (2) increased staff requirements necessary to implement the recommendation, (3) use of more aggressive and proactive investigations, (4) urine surveillance testing of inmates, and (5) progressive administrative and legal actions.
OIG's Analysis. The BOP views visitors as the primary source of drug introductions into BOP institutions. We concluded that because existing interdiction activities have not been fully effective, the BOP should implement more aggressive measures to prevent visitors from bringing drugs into BOP institutions. Pat searching visitors is a logical step to reduce the flow of drugs into the institutions. Currently, the BOP only conducts limited searches of visitors. Visitors walk through a metal detector and some of their property (e.g., a purse) undergoes a cursory search; however, other property, clothing, and visitors themselves are not searched. These gaps in the BOP's search procedures allow drugs to be readily concealed on visitors and brought into institutions.
The BOP states it will consider various factors before deciding whether to implement pat searching of visitors. However, additional technologies to detect drugs may not be readily available, while pat searches of visitors can be implemented quickly and incrementally at specific institutions, depending on the institutions' drug problem. While we recognize that additional staff may be required at institutions with large numbers of visitors, or to provide same-sex searches, the additional staff is not required every day and on every shift, because visits generally are allowed only on certain days of the week and during daytime hours. Finally, while we agree that investigations, inmate drug testing, and administrative and legal actions are important tools in reducing drugs in BOP institutions, they will not directly stop visitors from bringing drugs through an institution's front entrance. Pat searches of visitors can be an effective tool to stop drugs from entering institutions.
Please provide us with the BOP's decision for implementing pat searches of visitors by April 4, 2003.
Recommendation 3: Resolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP agrees with Recommendation 3 to invest in technology (such as cameras, monitors, ion spectrometry, or other emerging drug detecting technologies) to provide institutions with a greater capability to screen and monitor visitors. The response states that the BOP will explore purchase options for drug detection equipment, which is low-maintenance, easily transported, and easily operated, to enhance narcotics prevention throughout its institutions. However, the BOP response states that its limited funding does not permit broad and universal application of enhanced technology. The BOP further states that timely repairs of malfunctioning equipment will continue to be a priority. To compensate for blind areas in visiting rooms, the BOP states that staff are authorized to rearrange seating. The BOP response does not address the OIG's concerns that visitor monitoring rooms with two-way mirrors or camera monitors are underused, or that ion spectrometry technology, consistent with existing policy, should be used to detect drugs in other areas of the institutions besides visitor in-processing in the front lobby.
OIG's Analysis. Regarding equipment repair, during our site visits to BOP institutions, we found that a timely equipment repair was not a priority. We observed institutions that allowed malfunctioning ion spectrometry machines to sit for 3-6 months before repairs were sought. Regarding blind spots in visiting rooms, the BOP's response did not include an explanation of how it would conduct periodic monitoring and oversight to ensure that cameras and chairs are positioned to compensate for the blind spots. The BOP also did not address how it will ensure broader use of visiting monitoring rooms, camera monitors, and ion spectrometry technology.
By July 1, 2003, please provide us with (1) information about the drug detection technologies that the BOP has identified for its institutions, and a plan for implementing the technologies in a timely manner; (2) a copy of the BOP's funding request for new drug interdiction technologies; (3) written documentation that restates to the institutions that repairs of malfunctioning equipment are a priority; (4) the BOP's oversight plan for monitoring how institutions compensate for blind spots in their visiting rooms; and (5) information describing how the BOP will ensure broader use of visiting monitoring rooms, camera monitors, and ion spectrometry technology in institutions.
Recommendation 4: Resolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP agrees with Recommendation 4 that visiting rooms should be staffed with enough correctional officers so that sufficient direct observation and monitoring of each visitor can occur. However, the BOP states that institutions have the discretion to determine appropriate staffing levels to ensure proper monitoring of inmate visits, and therefore implies that the BOP Central Office has a limited role in this issue.
OIG's Analysis. During our site visits, we found that institutions were not ensuring proper monitoring of visits. In several institutions, there was insufficient staff to roam the visiting rooms, view camera monitors, or observe visitors from adjacent rooms with two-way mirrors. These gaps in the monitoring of visitors, who are the primary source of drug introductions, undermine the BOP's drug interdiction strategy. Please provide us with an explanation as to how the BOP will ensure that local staffing discretion will be exercised to reduce drug introductions in the visiting rooms by July 1, 2003.
Recommendation 5: Unresolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP agrees with Recommendation 5 to implement a policy that restricts the size and content of property that staff are allowed to bring into BOP institutions. The BOP anticipates completion of the policy by December 2004.
OIG's Analysis. While we appreciate the BOP's agreement to implement this recommendation, we believe that the BOP's completion date of December 2004 - two years from now - is untimely and that the BOP needs to expedite its efforts to stop staff smuggling drugs. To resolve this recommendation, please provide us with a status update on the policy's development and an expedited implementation date by July 1, 2003.
Recommendation 6: Unresolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP does not agree with Recommendation 6 to develop a policy requiring searches of staff and their property when entering institutions. The BOP states that staff morale would suffer and that staff searches would create unwarranted concerns in areas other than drug detection. The response further states that searching staff is intrusive and raises gender specific issues, as well as issues regarding the impact such searches have in the overall reduction of drugs in BOP institutions. The BOP asks the OIG to provide formal evaluation data from states that shows the effectiveness of staff searches in reducing the presence of drugs in institutions. The BOP states that a more effective means to deter staff introduction of drugs would be to implement property size and content restrictions (see Recommendation 5), along with existing processes, such as background investigations, integrity training, and other investigative procedures.
OIG's Analysis. We recognize that most BOP staff maintain high integrity standards. But when staff smuggle drugs into BOP institutions the amounts are frequently large, as OIG and FBI cases demonstrate. A significant factor that allows staff to smuggle drugs into institutions is the complete absence of any searches - including random searches or ion spectrometry searches - of staff or their property when they enter institutions. BOP staff may enter institutions with unlimited personal property, knowing that no search of their person and property will occur. While the BOP's agreement to establish a policy restricting the size and content of property that staff can carry into institutions is a positive step, property restrictions alone will not stop drug smuggling. BOP staff still can hide drugs on their person and in BOP-approved containers (such as lunch boxes) and deliver drugs to inmates, knowing that they will not be searched.
We are not suggesting that searches be required for all staff; nor are we suggesting that the searches must be pat searches. Rather, we are recommending that the BOP develop a staff search protocol. The BOP has flexibility in choosing how to comply with this recommendation. For example, the BOP may conduct random searches of staff and their property, whereby all staff on a particular shift would be searched walking through the front entrance once per week or month. Another example might be that every fourth staff member on a specific shift would be searched walking through the front entrance once per week or month. These searches can be conducted manually, via ion spectrometry, canine unit, or a combination of methods.
Although the BOP acknowledges that staff smuggle drugs, the BOP believes that searches would hurt staff morale and would cause [unspecified] concerns in [unspecified] areas other than drug detection. We disagree with this assessment. The BOP presented no evidence to support its claim that staff morale would suffer, or how unspecified areas other than drug detection would be affected by staff searches. To the contrary, approximately 90 percent of the geographically diverse BOP staff we interviewed supported a combination of restricting the size and content of property and searching staff and their property. BOP staff at every institution visited frequently stated to us that if you have nothing to hide, there should be no concern about being searched. We believe that staff searches would be - and should be - accepted as a routine and necessary safety measure, as long as there is a clear policy that is universally applied as part of a greater effort to prevent drugs from entering institutions.
The BOP also states that gender specific issues and the intrusive nature of searches may cause concern. We acknowledge that such searches are somewhat intrusive, but the safety and security of staff and inmates should be the overriding concern. Further, after September 11, 2001, searches of persons and property are becoming more commonplace in daily life. In addition, the BOP can address gender and intrusiveness concerns by assigning a female correctional officer to search female employees, and conducting all searches in the presence of a supervisor to ensure the integrity of the searches.
The BOP further requests that the OIG provide states' formal evaluation data that shows the effectiveness of staff searches in reducing the presence of drugs in state correctional institutions. The information we collected about the states' drug interdiction strategies is descriptive and does not measure statistically the effectiveness of each interdiction activity used in the strategies. However, as we noted above, although the state information does not evaluate each interdiction activity, it does show that a mix of activities is effective in reducing drugs in prisons. In support of this, a 1992 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) shows that institutions that direct special interdiction efforts toward staff (such as questioning, pat searches, and drug testing of staff) have a lower positive inmate drug test rate (1.0 percent positive for cocaine and 0.9 percent for heroin and methamphetamines) than institutions that make no special efforts to interdict drugs from staff (2.6 percent positive for cocaine, 2.2 percent for heroin, 6.6 percent for methamphetamine).95 In addition, our recommendation to search staff and their property is not predicated only on the states' activities, but also on the BOP's acknowledgment that staff are a primary source of drugs entering institutions and on documented drug cases involving staff.
The BOP's current limited interdiction activities toward staff - background investigations, integrity training, and investigative procedures - do not proactively stop drugs at their point of entry, and have not been fully effective in deterring staff from smuggling drugs. The BOP's agreement to develop a policy to restrict property, although a positive first step in response to our report, should be coupled with searches of staff. The outward appearance of a container is not as important as its contents. Searching is the only method to determine the contents, and searching staff is the only method to find drugs on their person.
In sum, we believe the BOP should employ an appropriate mix of manual searches, ion spectrometry, and other technology to prevent staff from bringing drugs into institutions. While the number of staff that bring drugs in may be small, the damage can be large.
To resolve this recommendation, please provide us with how the BOP will implement searches of staff and their property by July 1, 2003.
Recommendation 7: Resolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP agrees with Recommendation 7 that random drug testing for staff should be implemented. On November 7, 2002, the BOP issued correspondence to all institution Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) regarding the impending January 2003 implementation of the Drug Free Workplace Program.
OIG's Analysis. Please provide us with a copy of the correspondence issued to the institutions' CEOs, as well as a summary of the test results for 5 percent of test designated positions in July and December 2003 for the preceding 6 months.
Recommendation 8: Unresolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP agrees with Recommendation 8 that a policy should be implemented to eliminate unsolicited mail. The BOP anticipates an implementation date of December 2005.
OIG's Analysis. Although the BOP agrees with this recommendation, it suggests it will take three years to implement new policy. We believe that the BOP's implementation date of December 2005 is untimely and that the BOP needs to expedite its efforts to stop drug smuggling through the mail. To resolve this recommendation, please provide us with a status update on the policy's development and an expedited implementation date by July 1, 2003.
Recommendation 9: Resolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP agrees with Recommendation 9 to require additional training for BOP staff to search mail and detect drugs. The BOP stated that it has already taken steps to enhance training for inmate systems officers effective November 2002.
OIG's Analysis. The OIG believes, as stated in our report, that in addition to inmate systems officers, unit management staff who are responsible for opening and searching legal mail on a daily basis should be included in this training. Please provide us with a copy of the revised training curriculum, training schedule and locations, and list of participants by July 1, 2003.
Recommendation 10: Unresolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP agrees with Recommendation 10 to test mailroom drug detection technologies and states that the Inmate Systems Management Branch will work with the Office of Security Technology to conduct research and tests and present their findings to the BOP's executive staff. The BOP anticipates presentation of the research and test findings by December 2005.
OIG's Analysis. Again, we believe the BOP's completion date of December 2005 is untimely. The Office of Security Technology should already be familiar with mailroom drug detection technologies. Inmate systems management officers at the institutions can determine quickly whether the technology is effective, if on-site testing of the technology is required. To resolve this recommendation, please provide us with information about the drug detection technologies that the BOP has identified for its institutions' mailrooms, and a plan for testing and implementing the technologies in a timely manner by July 1, 2003.
Recommendation 11: Unresolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP agrees with Recommendation 11 that SENTRY, the BOP inmate tracking system, should be improved to accurately track the number of inmates who are diagnosed with a drug abuse problem, and who are referred for, receive, and complete treatment. The BOP states that two policy changes to the drug abuse program policy are under review. It states that these changes will improve SENTRY tracking of inmates entering the BOP with substance abuse disorders by (1) expanding the category of inmates who are eligible for the drug education course; and (2) improving the sequence of identification, screening, assessment, and referral of inmates with drug abuse disorders. The BOP further states that with the expansion of the category of inmates eligible for drug abuse education, the BOP will create a Psychological Data System (PDS) database to track inmates with a substance abuse problem or those who receive a diagnosis and referral for treatment for a substance abuse disorder. The BOP anticipates these policy revisions taking between one to three years to implement, with completion of this requirement by December 2005.
OIG's Analysis. With the proposed revisions to the screening, identification, assessment, and referral of inmates to drug abuse treatment, and the creation of a PDS database to track these inmates along each of the stages, the intent of our recommendation will be met. However, we question the length of time BOP anticipates it will take to create the inmate tracking system, particularly when BOP staff already have the capability to enter treatment information in SENTRY (although not diagnosis and referral information). While the actual policy revisions (expanding the category of inmate eligible for the drug education course and improving the screening and referral processes) may take longer to implement, we believe that the creation of a PDS database, improved SENTRY tracking, or any other tracking system for inmates with an identified drug abuse problem could be completed prior to implementation of the policy revisions. To wait until December 2005 for a tracking system means that the BOP will not accurately identify for three more years the number and identity of inmates who have drug abuse problems. Because demand reduction is an important component of the BOP's strategy to reduce drugs in its institutions, this is a lengthy timeframe for implementing the tracking system. Without the system, the BOP does not track inmates to ensure that those identified with a drug abuse problem get treatment and does not hold inmates accountable for following through with their treatment recommendations. The tracking system is critical to BOP's demand reduction efforts, and we believe the BOP should implement this initiative more quickly.
To resolve this recommendation, please provide us with an amended timeframe to expedite improved tracking of those inmates with drug abuse problems, as well as a status report on the development of the tracking database and the policy revisions by July 1, 2003.
Recommendation 12: Unresolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP does not agree with Recommendation 12 that the non-residential drug abuse treatment program should be staffed based on a combination of the drug abuse treatment specialist (DATS) staffing guidelines and the number of inmates needing drug treatment at each institution. The BOP's response states that this staffing initiative is not funded, and bringing the BOP's current institution complement into compliance with staffing guidelines would be cost prohibitive. It further states that the drug abuse program policy only provides staffing guidelines for the residential drug abuse program (RDAP) because that is a longer and more intensive program than non-residential treatment. The BOP also notes that each institution is already provided one DATS and a drug abuse program coordinator.
OIG's Analysis. The BOP's response does not address the lack of non-residential drug treatment in its institutions. Drug treatment for inmates is a critical part of the BOP's strategy to reduce the demand for and presence of drugs in its institutions. Yet, the BOP's own internal program reviews have cited on-going deficiencies in providing non-residential drug treatment.
The staffing guidelines we cite in our recommendation and report do not relate only to the RDAP, as implied by the BOP's response. The staffing guidelines also relate to the BOP's other drug program components: drug education and non-residential treatment. The guidelines are BOP-wide psychology services staffing guidelines developed for all institutions regardless of their security level or other operational variables, and are based on the population of the institution (i.e., the guidelines provide for "one DATS for an absolute increment of 500 inmates as a base and one DATS for each additional absolute increment of 500"). It is important to note that the RDAP, although recognized for its successful treatment outcomes, is not provided to inmates until sometime during their last 36 months of incarceration, with the intent that inmates will be drug-free when released into the community. As a result, we believe the RDAP is not sufficient to support adequately the demand reduction component of the BOP's drug strategy for two reasons: (1) with an average 10-year sentence, many inmates are not eligible for RDAP admission for seven or more years from when they enter the institution. Therefore, without non-residential treatment, inmates have no drug treatment during this lengthy period; and (2) not all inmates when diagnosed with a drug abuse problem are eligible for or volunteer to attend RDAP. Without non-residential drug treatment, these inmates have no treatment alternative.
The BOP's response suggests that one DATS and one drug program coordinator per institution are sufficient. However, the drug program coordinator does not provide drug treatment, and one DATS to provide drug education classes and non-residential drug treatment services to 1500-2000 inmates, the average inmate population at the institutions we visited, is insufficient. At these institutions, the DATS told us they are overwhelmed with the number of drug abuse education classes they must teach and with the number of inmates who need drug abuse treatment. It was clear to us that one DATS is not enough to handle the workload.
Moreover, without a continuum of treatment services for inmates, the goal to reduce the inmates' demand for drugs while incarcerated will not be achieved. We found that, despite the BOP response claiming sufficient staffing, six of eight institutions we visited did not provide any or enough non-residential treatment for inmates with drug problems, primarily due to lack of staff. Yet, the BOP has not indicated how it will solve this treatment gap so that inmates will not use drugs in the years before they are admitted to the RDAP.
We recognize that increased drug treatment staffing across BOP institutions would require additional resources. However, we disagree with the BOP's rejection of this recommendation and its unwillingness to seek additional resources for this objective. For example, the BOP could attempt a measured approach to staff increases by first determining those institutions with the greatest need and seeking additional staff accordingly. The staff may be obtained through budget requests or reallocations of positions from areas of lower priority. The BOP also could consider expanding the role of the drug abuse program coordinators to include providing drug treatment to inmates.
We believe an appropriate balance of institutions' drug treatment staffing levels to inmates' non-residential drug treatment needs is key to improving the BOP's strategy to reduce inmates' demand for drugs. To resolve this recommendation, please provide us with the BOP's plan for ensuring non-residential treatment programs are adequately staffed so inmates have access to treatment by July 1, 2003.
Recommendation 13: Unresolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP does not agree with Recommendation 13 that the drug abuse program policy should be revised to (1) clarify that non-residential treatment is required in addition to RDAP transitional services, (2) include a curriculum for non-residential drug treatment, (3) provide guidance regarding the minimum number of sessions and weeks' duration for treatment groups, and (4) increase emphasis on self-help groups such as Narcotics (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The BOP states that the current drug abuse program policy already addresses the OIG recommendation. The BOP's response also states that the majority of its resources are directed toward the RDAP. Further, the BOP states that the non-residential treatment program was designed to address those offenders with a low-level substance abuse impairment who do not need the intensity of the RDAP, and to provide inmates with a moderate to severe drug problem with the supportive program opportunities while waiting for RDAP admission or near-term release into the community.
OIG's Analysis. As with Recommendation 12, the BOP's response to Recommendation 13 fails to acknowledge that non-residential treatment is often not available to inmates who need treatment whether they have a low, moderate, or severe drug problem, and that the lack of non-residential treatment undermines the BOP's efforts to rehabilitate inmates and reduce drug use in its institutions.
In contrast to the BOP's response, we concluded, after reviewing BOP policy and interviewing DATS and drug program coordinators, that the current drug treatment policy does not provide sufficient guidance for non-residential treatment in its curriculum, application, or oversight. Specifically, BOP Program Statement 5330.10, Drug Abuse Programs, Inmate, Chapter 4, page 1, paragraph 4.2, does not provide a sufficient level of assistance to DATS for implementing non-residential treatment. The policy states, "Non-residential drug abuse services shall include a minimum of one hour of individual or group contacts each month as indicated by a treatment plan." Most drug treatment staff in the institutions we visited confused this requirement with the requirement for transitional (aftercare) services (a component of non-residential treatment) to RDAP graduates before their release to the community. Transitional services were provided in lieu of, rather than in addition to, non-residential treatment for inmates in the general population. The BOP's uneven record of providing non-residential treatment provides further evidence of a program breakdown. In six of eight institutions' drug treatment programs we reviewed, non-residential treatment was absent or minimal. In the past two years at these institutions - some with the highest drug use rates BOP-wide - a total of only 7 to 32 inmates received non-residential treatment. Further, the BOP's own internal program reviews cite on-going deficiencies throughout the BOP in providing non-residential drug treatment. Yet, the BOP's response does not offer solutions to the treatment void.
At the institutions we visited, the DATS, drug program coordinators, and unit management staff believed non-residential treatment required stronger and more detailed policy and additional staff. Although the policy suggests non-residential treatment topics of interpersonal skill building, errors in thinking, post-release survival, and anger management, it does not provide in-depth content information for these topics. Program Statement 5330.10 hints at the expectations for non-residential treatment, but does not provide a strong foundation for the program, as demonstrated by the absence of treatment in the institutions.
The BOP also references in its response other guidance - a 1991 version of a drug abuse program curriculum (now under revision) - that can be used in non-residential treatment programs. The BOP Central Office and staff at the institutions visited never mentioned the existence of this decade-old curriculum during our discussions of non-residential treatment. Because of the BOP's lack of emphasis on non-residential treatment, the curriculum may have limited exposure among treatment staff. Improvements in this curriculum, along with staff training, could fill some of the guidance gap of Program Statement 5330.10.
The Program Statement 5330.10 does acknowledge self-help programs, such as NA and AA, as useful adjuncts to institutions' drug abuse programs. But the institutions we visited did not pursue these programs because of inadequate communication between the drug treatment staff and volunteer coordinators to recruit program volunteers from the community, or because of local security prohibitions against NA and AA volunteers who have criminal backgrounds. We believe the Program Statement should more expressly state that drug treatment staff must ensure that volunteers are solicited for self-help programs and that criminal backgrounds of NA and AA volunteers (who are often former addicts and alcoholics) should not automatically preclude their presence in institutions.
To resolve this recommendation, the BOP must agree to (1) revise Program Statement 5330.10 to clarify the requirement for non-residential drug abuse treatment for inmates in the general population, in addition to the monthly transitional services for RDAP graduates; (2) develop (or enhance) a detailed curriculum and timeframes for non-residential treatment as part of Program Statement 5330.10 or as a separate document (such as the 1991 curriculum referenced by BOP; and (3) re-emphasize to institutions the important role of self-help programs and ensures barriers to their use are removed. Please provide us with the status of these actions by July 1, 2003.
Recommendation 14: Unresolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP does not agree with the first part of Recommendation 14 to create incentives for participation in non-residential drug treatment and sanctions for non-completion to increase inmate participation. The BOP response states that incentives and sanctions would be a disincentive for inmates with the most severe treatment needs to enroll in the RDAP. It further states that placement of inmates with serious drug problems in non-residential rather than residential treatment would be a disservice to the inmates and the community.
The BOP agrees with the second part of Recommendation 14 to add a separate score for drug treatment participation on inmates' annual Security Designation and Custody Classification form. The BOP states that modifications are currently underway to reflect an inmates' participation in all program areas. These modifications should include an inmates' participation in drug abuse treatment. The BOP anticipates completing and implementing the modifications in December 2005.
OIG's Analysis. With regard to the first part of the recommendation, we disagree with the BOP's view that creating incentives for participation and sanctions for non-completion of non-residential treatment would be a disincentive for inmates to participate in the RDAP. Non-residential treatment is the only drug abuse treatment available to inmates in the general population who do not meet the criteria for, choose to not participate in, or are awaiting admission to the RDAP. If inmates are referred to the RDAP, these referrals remain in force regardless of the inmates' participation in non-residential treatment. If inmates ultimately refuse to enter the RDAP, whether or not they attended non-residential treatment in the interim, the inmates should receive a failing score for the referred drug program on the inmates' annual Security Designation and Custody Classification form.
The BOP's response, which focuses on the benefit of the RDAP for those inmates with severe drug disorders, diminishes the importance of non-residential treatment. It also suggests that inmates should have no drug treatment available other than the RDAP. As noted previously, however, inmates are not eligible for the RDAP until the last 36 months of their sentence, which results in a lengthy treatment void for needy inmates.
The BOP should be encouraging inmates, through incentives and sanctions, to participate in any accepted drug treatment. One method of treatment provided in the near term does not detract from another method of treatment provided in the longer term. Moreover, the BOP has not presented any evidence that incentives and sanctions for the non-residential treatment program undermine the RDAP. The BOP also has not presented evidence that inmates with severe treatment needs are harmed by participating in non-residential treatment prior to admittance to the RDAP. We believe incentives and sanctions for non-residential treatment are important to increasing inmates' participation in treatment. The BOP also recognizes the importance of incentives and sanctions to treatment participation, as both the drug education course and the RDAP have incentives for participation and sanctions or disincentives for non-completion.
With regard to the second part of the recommendation, we believe the BOP's date of December 2005 is untimely for completing and implementing modifications to the Security Designation and Custody Classification form.
To resolve this recommendation, please provide us with (1) a copy of the modified Security Designation and Custody Classification form and an expedited implementation date, and (2) the BOP's plan for improving inmates' participation in non-residential treatment through incentives for participation and sanctions for non-completion by July 1, 2003.
Recommendation 15: Resolved - Open
Summary of the BOP's Response. The BOP partially agrees with Recommendation 15 to consider 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 does not agree to conduct another pilot test of canines as a drug detection technique for its institutions.
The BOP states that each of its six regions is authorized to have a canine unit at one institution. The BOP does not believe it is appropriate to expand this policy, citing the significant amount of financial and staff resources involved. It states that purchasing canines, training staff and canines, and caring for canines are major concerns when determining the overall cost/benefit of the program. Additionally, the BOP states that canine resources are usually available in the local community for use upon request, and use of these outside canines serves to enhance relationships with local law enforcement.
OIG's Analysis. The OIG recommended (1) using better technology to supplement manual searches for drugs in the R&D and warehouse areas, (2) establishing a volunteer and contractor database to enable timely sharing of information between institutions, (3) establishing the Special Investigative Supervisor (SIS) lieutenant position as a permanent position rather than an 18-month rotation, (4) providing more timely and in-depth training for SIS lieutenants, (5) using SIS staff to train other staff about drug interdiction issues, and (6) pilot testing canines as a drug detection technique for institutions.
Although the BOP agreed to consider the opportunities we presented in our report for improving drug interdiction activities for items 1 through 5 above, the BOP did not provide specific information about its planned actions for each item. Please provide us with the BOP's planned actions for items 1 through 5 by April 4, 2003.
The BOP response does not agree with item 6 to pilot test canines as a drug detection technique. Only one region currently has a canine unit (at USP Lewisburg). During our interviews at the BOP's Central Office, BOP officials strongly opposed expanding the number of BOP canine units. Therefore, although authorized, we believe it is unlikely that any region would request establishment of a canine unit. In fact, we were told that when the current canines at USP Lewisburg die, so too will the canine program.
During our review, the BOP could not locate the results of its original pilot study on canine units initiated in FY 1990. Therefore, we were unable to determine the factual basis for the BOP's opposition. The BOP's own policy statement on canine units states, "The use of canines by the Bureau and other federal law enforcement agencies has proven to be an effective method for narcotics detection…The presence of a canine unit not only aids in locating drugs, drug paraphernalia, and escapees, but also serves as a deterrent." Further, canine units are frequently used by state correctional systems as part of their overall drug interdiction strategies. Fourteen of 17 states from which we collected drug interdiction strategies use canine units.
The BOP response states that canines are usually available in the community. However, as pointed out in the OIG report, canine units from local law enforcement in fact are frequently unavailable for use by BOP institutions and are not well-suited or trained for work inside a correctional institution. By contrast, the BOP's canine unit at USP Lewisburg demonstrates the benefits of canines as a drug interdiction activity throughout the institution.
We believe that drug detecting canines are an underused resource in the BOP. Regarding cost, the purchase cost of one canine (including cost of training for the handler and canine) is one-quarter the cost of an ion spectrometry machine, and one-sixth to one-third the cost to maintain that machine annually. As stated in our report, other institutional technology, such as x-ray scanners or metal detectors, used to search inmates and their property, mail, or warehouse deliveries are not capable of detecting drugs. Therefore, drug detecting canines could be used to enhance interdiction activities in areas throughout institutions, such as in the mailroom, the R&D area, the warehouse, and the rear gate. Canines are more mobile than some machines and can also be used to search inmates, staff, visitors, all areas of the prison, and parking lots. With the BOP's concern about being "restricted from broad and universal application of technological advancements by funding allocated to the agency," and its prolonged dates to locate, test, and implement technology, the expanded use of canines, an already proven low-technology alternative in many state correctional systems, appears warranted. Canines are less expensive, trained specifically to detect drugs (and trained for multiple other uses), serve as a highly visible deterrent, and have low on-going maintenance costs.
We believe the BOP should fully implement its own policy and, at a minimum, establish a drug detecting canine unit for each region as a pilot study, concentrating on the institution within each region with the highest positive inmate drug test and drug misconduct rates. Please provide us with your decision to pilot test drug detecting canine units by April 4, 2003.