Semiannual Report to Congress
April 1, 2004September 30, 2004
Office of the Inspector General
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 34,800 employees and operates 105 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 180,000 federal offenders, 153,000 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.
Review of the BOP's Disciplinary System
The OIG previously reviewed the disciplinary systems of the USMS and the DEA. As the third major review of a component's disciplinary system, the OIG assessed the effectiveness of the BOP's system for investigating employee misconduct and disciplining employees when misconduct is confirmed. Specifically, we reviewed whether BOP employees properly reported misconduct; whether investigations were thorough; and whether disciplinary actions were reasonable, consistent, and timely.
We found that the investigative phase of the BOP's disciplinary process was thorough and the case files we reviewed were well documented. We also found no significant differences in how the BOP treated employees of different races, genders, job series, or grade levels during the disciplinary process. However, we identified several deficiencies in the BOP's disciplinary system:
We made ten recommendations to help the BOP address these deficiencies. Among the recommendations were that the BOP establish a review process that ensures the investigative and adjudicative phases function independently and the BOP develop procedures to ensure that discipline is imposed consistently across all of its facilities. The BOP generally concurred with all but one of our recommendations.
The Process for Selecting Muslim Religious Services Providers
The OIG completed a review that examined the BOP's procedures for recruiting, selecting, and supervising individuals to provide Islamic religious services to approximately 9,000 BOP inmates who seek Islamic religious services. The OIG initiated this review in response to concerns from several members of Congress that the BOP relies solely on two Islamic groups to endorse its Muslim chaplains, and that these two groups allegedly are connected to terrorism and promote an exclusionary and extreme form of Islam.
The OIG's review found that while the BOP has made some improvements in how it selects and supervises Muslim religious services providers, a number of deficiencies remain. We found that the BOP typically does not examine the doctrinal beliefs of applicants for religious services positions to determine whether the applicants espouse extremist views that pose a security threat. In addition, we concluded that the BOP and the FBI had not adequately exchanged information regarding the possible connections to terrorism of Muslim organizations that endorse applicants for BOP religious services positions. We also found that because of a shortage of Muslim chaplains, inmates often lead Islamic religious services subject only to intermittent supervision from BOP staff members. This situation increases the risk that inappropriate messages will be delivered to inmates.
The OIG's report made 16 recommendations to help the BOP improve its process for selecting, screening, and supervising Muslim religious services providers. These recommendations include:
The BOP agreed to implement corrective action with regard to all but one of the recommendations.
During this reporting period, the OIG received 2,606 complaints involving the BOP. The most common allegations made against BOP employees included job performance failure, use of unnecessary force, official misconduct, and off-duty misconduct. The vast majority of complaints dealt with non-criminal issues that the OIG referred to the BOP's Office of Internal Affairs.
At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 236 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. The following are examples of cases investigated during this reporting period:
Procedural Reform Recommendation
The OIG prepares a Procedural Reform Recommendation (PRR) recommending corrective action by a Department component when an investigation identifies a systemic weakness in an internal policy, practice, procedure, or program. The following is an example of a PRR sent to the BOP during this reporting period.
An OIG PRR regarding the use of postage stamps as currency by BOP inmates was developed from information obtained in the course of several OIG investigations. The investigations disclosed that inmates frequently use postage stamps to purchase soft contraband and drugs, pay debts, engage in illegal gambling activities, and operate black market commissaries.
The PRR recommends that the BOP replace the process for issuing postage stamps to inmates with a metered postage system. This action would prevent inmates from using postage stamps as currency for illegal activities but still allow them to mail letters and legal correspondence. The BOP currently is considering the OIG's PRR.