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 35,000 employees and operates 114 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 181,000 federal offenders, 160,000 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.
During this reporting period, the OIG received 2,448 complaints of misconduct involving the BOP. The most common allegations made against BOP employees included job performance failure, use of unnecessary force, improper relationships with or rude treatment of inmates, 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 187 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:
- An investigation by the OIG’s Chicago Field Office determined that a BOP correctional officer assigned to the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, had engaged in sexual acts with two female inmates under his supervision. The officer was prosecuted, but his first trial ended in a hung jury. A superseding indictment included charges that the officer made false statements under oath during testimony at his first trial. The jury in the second trial convicted the correctional officer on all 10 counts in the superseding indictment of sexual abuse and making false statements. The officer was sentenced in the Eastern District of Kentucky to nine years’ incarceration and two years’ supervised release.
- The OIG’s Dallas Field Office initiated an investigation after receiving information from a cooperating inmate that a BOP correctional officer assigned to the U.S. Penitentiary (USP) in Pollock, Louisiana, was providing drugs to inmates in exchange for cash. During an OIG undercover operation, the corrupt correctional officer met with an undercover agent and accepted 1 pound of sham marijuana, 12 grams of sham heroin, and $2,000. The officer was sentenced in the Western District of Louisiana to six years’ incarceration and three years’ supervised release.
- A joint investigation by the OIG’s Los Angeles Field Office, FBI, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Lompoc Police Department, and BOP determined that a correctional officer assigned to the USP in Lompoc, California, had been smuggling narcotics into the USP and receiving payments from inmates’ families since 2001. The officer was sentenced in the Central District of California to 57 months’ incarceration and 3 years’ supervised release.
- An investigation by the OIG’s San Francisco Area Office resulted in a confession from a correctional officer assigned to the USP in Atwater, California, that on at least 3 occasions he accepted $1,000 in cash to introduce marijuana into the USP. The officer pled guilty in the Eastern District of California. Sentencing is pending.
- The OIG’s Chicago Field Office exonerated a correctional officer following an allegation that he impregnated a female inmate incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp (FPC) in Greenville, Illinois. The investigation developed evidence that the inmate had been sneaking out of the FPC at night and engaging in sexual relations with her boyfriend. The inmate admitted to fabricating the allegations against the correctional officer and providing false statements to conceal the circumstances of her pregnancy. She was sentenced in the Southern District of Illinois to 15 months’ incarceration and 3 years’ supervised release for making false statements to the BOP and the OIG.
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:
The OIG’s PRR addressed security weaknesses in modified prisoner transport buses that allowed three undocumented aliens to escape from BOP custody. The PRR was based on an investigation by the OIG’s Tucson Area Office into a complaint that detailed how the prisoners escaped by gaining access to a door latch through an existing gap between the top of the door and the interior roof of the bus. The investigation found that the BOP modified the bus doors to make room for supplemental air conditioning units by removing sections from the top of the door. This modification gave the fugitives access to the door latch.
The OIG recommended that the BOP: 1) disseminate an officer’s safety bulletin regarding the modified buses; 2) direct agencies to inspect its buses for the identified weaknesses; 3) advise agencies to consider using a 2-member team to perform prisoner transport duties until all buses can be inspected; 4) mandate that an enhanced keyed deadbolt be employed as the primary device to secure the entryway door; and 5) immediately review the design and modification specifications for installing air conditioning units in the buses to minimize the degree of modification required for the entry door.
BOP Pharmacy Services
The BOP currently has over 150 pharmacists who fill 4 to 5 million prescriptions per year for inmates. The pharmacists also are responsible for managing inventories of prescription medication and related supplies, conducting patient counseling, and maintaining patient records. The OIG is assessing whether the BOP ensures adequate controls and safeguards over prescription drugs; evaluating the BOP’s efforts to reduce the rising costs of prescription drugs; and assessing whether BOP pharmacies are in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.
Deterring Staff Sexual Abuse of Federal Inmates
Cases involving staff sexual abuse of BOP inmates annually comprise approximately 12 percent of the OIG’s total number of investigations. The OIG is examining the problem of sexual abuse of federal inmates by correctional staff and the impact of federal law on the deterrence of staff sexual abuse.