Return to the Table of Contents

Semiannual Report to Congress

October 1, 2003–March 31, 2004
Office of the Inspector General

The Federal Bureau of Prisons

BOP logo

The BOP operates a nationwide system of prisons and detention facilities to incarcerate those imprisoned for federal crimes and detain those awaiting trial or sentencing in federal court. The BOP has approximately 34,000 employees and operates 104 institutions, 6 regional offices, 2 staff training centers, and 28 community corrections management offices. The BOP is responsible for the custody and care of approximately 174,000 federal offenders, 147,000 of whom are confined in BOP-operated correctional institutions and detention centers. The remainder are confined in facilities operated by state or local governments or in privately operated facilities.

Reports Issued

Abuse of September 11 Detainees

The report supplemented our June 2003 review of the treatment of aliens held on immigration charges in connection with the investigation of the September 11 attacks. This follow-up report, issued in December 2003, examined allegations that some correctional officers in the BOP's Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York, physically and verbally abused detainees there. In the supplemental report, we described the evidence we found of abuse, concluded that the evidence substantiated many of the allegations that had been made, and recommended the BOP discipline certain correctional officers. We also described systemic problems in how the MDC handled the September 11 detainees. Among the report's findings:

We made seven recommendations to the BOP to address those systemic problems, which we concluded would improve the BOP's ability to prepare for and respond to future emergencies involving detainees as well as improve its routine handling of inmates. We also recommended that the BOP consider taking disciplinary action against ten current BOP employees, counseling two current MDC employees, and informing employers of four former staff members about our findings against them.

After receiving the BOP's response to the seven recommendations contained in the OIG's MDC report discussed above, we issued an analysis concluding that, in general, the BOP has taken reasonable and responsible steps to implement our recommendations. Many of the BOP's actions appropriately address the concerns underlying the recommendations. However, the BOP continues to disagree with several recommendations, including:

Implementation of these recommendations is ongoing, and we continue to monitor and report on the BOP's progress. The OIG expects to receive the BOP's next response by June 1, 2004.

Inmate Release Preparation and Transitional Reentry Programs

The BOP is responsible for offering inmates occupational, educational, recreational, religious, and psychological programs that provide them with the skills they need to reenter society successfully when released from prison. The BOP also is required to provide eligible inmates the opportunity to make their transition into society through halfway houses. Studies have shown that inmates who successfully complete such programs are less likely to reoffend and return to prison.

During FYs 2000 through 2002, 74,401 federal inmates were released from BOP institutions and, according to the most recent recidivism statistics, about 41 percent of them will commit new offenses. Approximately 16 percent will return to federal prisons within three years. The OIG conducted this audit to evaluate whether the BOP is ensuring federal inmates participate in programs designed to prepare them for successful reentry into society.

Our audit concluded that BOP institutions have not maximized the number of inmates who successfully complete reentry programs during incarceration. According to BOP officials, the BOP has been working to establish an effective strategic management process for monitoring and evaluating reentry program goals and outcomes since 1998. However, we found the BOP has not yet implemented a standardized process to establish realistic occupational and educational completion goals. From FYs 1999 through 2002, 34 to 69 percent of BOP institutions failed to meet occupational and educational program completion goals. The BOP also did not routinely review program performance at each of its institutions, despite the fact there was a wide range in the percentage of inmates successfully completing occupational and educational programs at institutions of the same security level. In addition, we found the BOP did not have a standardized process in place among its regions to ensure institutions maximize participation in psychological programs, nor did it track the percentage of inmates who successfully completed the Release Preparation Program at each of its institutions.

Our audit further concluded that the BOP does not ensure that all eligible inmates have the opportunity to make the transition back into society through halfway houses. We found that from FYs 2000 through 2002, 28 to 54 percent of BOP institutions failed to meet established targets for halfway house utilization and that utilization targets had not been established for high-security institutions.

Our report contained 13 recommendations to help improve the BOP's management of its programs to prepare inmates for release into society. The BOP concurred with all 13.


During this reporting period, the OIG received 2,483 complaints involving the BOP and opened 142 investigations. The most common allegations made against BOP employees included job performance failure, use of unnecessary force, official misconduct, and custody and security failure. The vast majority of complaints dealt with noncriminal issues that the OIG referred to the BOP's Office of Internal Affairs.

At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 264 open cases of alleged misconduct against BOP employees. The criminal investigations cover a wide range of allegations, including bribery of a public official, sexual abuse of inmates, and introduction of contraband (e.g., drugs). The following are examples of cases involving the BOP that the OIG investigated during this reporting period:

Ongoing Work

The BOP's Disciplinary System

The OIG is assessing whether the BOP adequately investigates allegations of employee misconduct and disciplines employees in a timely and consistent manner if they are found to have committed misconduct.

The Process for Selecting Muslim Religious Services Providers The OIG is reviewing the BOP's procedures for selecting Muslim personnel, contractors, and volunteers who provide religious services to inmates. The OIG's review is examining whether the BOP's process effectively screens candidates to ensure that members of extremist groups do not become religious service providers in the BOP.