Semiannual Report to Congress

April 1, 2006-September 30, 2006
Office of the Inspector General

Federal Bureau of Prisons

FBI 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 36,000 employees and operates 114 institutions, 6 regional offices, and 2 staff training centers. The BOP is responsible for the custody and care of approximately 192,000 federal offenders, 162,000 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

The BOP’s Monitoring of Mail for High-Risk Inmates

In March 2005, news media reported that three terrorists who were convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and incarcerated at the BOP’s highest-security prison, the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado, had written over 90 letters to Islamic extremists outside the prison between 2002 and 2004. These extremists included incarcerated members of a Spanish terror cell with links to other terrorists suspected in the March 2004 attacks on Madrid commuter trains, and other Islamic radicals in Spain and Morocco — among them a man charged with using the BOP inmates’ letters for recruiting suicide operatives. As a result, the OIG’s Evaluation and Inspections Division reviewed the BOP’s efforts to prevent terrorists and other high-risk inmates from using the mail or the cover of a foreign language to continue or encourage terrorist or criminal activities.

The OIG review concluded that the BOP’s monitoring of inmate mail and other forms of communication was deficient in several respects: 1) the BOP does not read all the mail for terrorists and other high–risk inmates on its mail monitoring lists, 2) the BOP does not have enough proficient translators to translate inmate mail written in foreign languages, and 3) the BOP does not have sufficient staff trained in intelligence techniques to analyze whether terrorists’ communications contain suspicious content. In addition to the deficiencies in its mail monitoring efforts, the OIG also found that the BOP is unable to effectively monitor high-risk inmates’ verbal communications, which include telephone calls, visits with family and friends, and cellblock conversations.

According to BOP officials, BOP staff is expected to read 100 percent of the mail for inmates placed on mail monitoring lists. However, staff members at 7 of the 10 institutions that we visited told us they were not reading 100 percent of the mail for inmates on mail monitoring lists, and the percentage of mail read had decreased since FY 2005 due to staff reallocations.

BOP staff also randomly read the mail of inmates not on monitoring lists in order to gather intelligence. However, staff at seven institutions told us that the high volume of mail, short processing deadlines, and staff reallocations resulted in a decrease in the amount of random reading of inmate mail.

In addition, the OIG found that the BOP does not have adequate agency-wide procedures for translating inmate mail written in a foreign language. Instead, the BOP relies primarily on BOP staff volunteers to translate mail as a collateral duty. We also found shortcomings in the BOP’s translation efforts, including: 1) the BOP does not ensure that the staff used to translate inmate communications meet language proficiency requirements, 2) the BOP does not have enough staff members fluent in foreign languages to provide necessary translations, and 3) BOP supervisors do not consistently support translating as a collateral duty for their staff.

To improve its handling of foreign language translations, the BOP recently hired three full-time language specialists. However, we found that the BOP has not provided the specialists with sufficient intelligence training to enable them to identify potential intelligence from communications that they translate.

In general, we found that the BOP’s intelligence capability to analyze the contents of terrorist inmates’ mail is not well developed. The BOP offers only limited intelligence training to its staff to enable them to identify suspicious content in the mail of terrorist inmates. For example, when staff members at ADX Florence learned that terrorist inmates had been corresponding with Islamic extremist inmates in Spanish prisons, the BOP did not notify the FBI because BOP staff members did not understand the implications of the correspondence in furthering terrorist activity.

The OIG also found that the BOP was not meeting its own internal goals for telephone monitoring of high-risk inmates, and thus, may be missing opportunities to gather intelligence about terrorist or criminal activity. In addition, we found that the Department does not have a policy requiring that all inmates arrested for international terrorism-related crimes be reviewed to determine whether they should be placed under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), the most restrictive conditions that can be placed on an inmate’s communications. We concluded that unless such a review is required, there is no guarantee that international terrorist inmates will receive the heightened security and communications monitoring they require during incarceration.

The OIG review also reported on the BOP’s ongoing and proposed initiatives that should help improve the monitoring of communications for terrorists and other high-risk inmates. The BOP initiatives include building stronger foreign language translation and intelligence analysis capabilities through increased training of staff and use of electronic tools such as translation software, enhancing information sharing between its databases that contain information on inmate communications to facilitate intelligence analyses, consolidating terrorist inmates in a few institutions in order to concentrate the resources required to monitor them, limiting the volume of mail and other types of communication available to terrorists or other high-risk inmates, and attempting to eliminate unsolicited “junk mail” for inmates.

The OIG made 13 recommendations designed to strengthen these initiatives and provide additional improvements to the BOP’s monitoring of mail and verbal communications of terrorists and high-risk inmates. Two additional recommendations were addressed to the FBI and the Criminal Division. The BOP, Criminal Division, and FBI concurred with all 15 recommendations and have begun to develop plans to implement these recommendations.

Oversight of Department Expenditures Related to Hurricane Rita: Roof Repair at the Federal Correctional Complex in Beaumont, Texas

On June 23, 2006, the OIG issued an audit of the Department’s expenditures for roof repair at the BOP Federal Correctional Complex in Beaumont, Texas. In October 2005, the BOP awarded a $5.18 million contract to D.K. Haney Construction, Inc., to repair or replace roofing damaged by Hurricane Rita. The BOP entered into the sole-source contract using FY 2006 hurricane supplemental funding. We found that: 1) the decision to use a sole source contract was appropriate, 2) the BOP took adequate steps to ensure that the contract was negotiated fairly and reasonably priced, and 3) the contract was awarded at an “arms length” basis.


During this reporting period, the OIG received 2,804 complaints involving the BOP. The most common allegations made against BOP employees included job performance failure, use of unnecessary force, and rude or crude treatment of inmates. 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 238 open cases of alleged misconduct against BOP employees. The criminal investigations cover a wide range of allegations, including bribery, introduction of contraband, sexual abuse, and unnecessary use of force. The following are examples of cases involving the BOP that the OIG’s Investigations Division investigated during this reporting period:

  • A joint investigation by the OIG’s Miami Field Office and the FBI led to the indictment of six BOP correctional officers assigned to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Tallahassee, Florida, on charges of conspiracy to sexually abuse female inmates and introduction of contraband. This is the case in which OIG Special Agent William “Buddy” Sentner was killed in an exchange of gunfire initiated by one of the indicted correctional officers during the arrest operation. The OIG investigators developed evidence that the correctional officers were involved in a scheme to provide contraband to female inmates in exchange for sexual favors and money. According to the indictment, the defendants would conspire among themselves to switch duty assignments to facilitate this illegal sexual activity. The indictment further charges that the defendants conspired to cover up their illegal activities by requiring other female inmates to act as look-outs when the illegal sexual activity was taking place. The defendants kept inmates from reporting the defendants’ illegal conduct by threatening to plant contraband among the inmates’ belongings and by threatening to have the inmates transferred to a facility that was far from family members. In addition, the defendants showed victims information about the inmates on the BOP computer system as proof that the inmates could be tracked anywhere within the BOP system, and the defendants monitored telephone calls of specific inmates in order to intimidate them and identify any inmates who were disclosing the defendants’ criminal conduct. The defendants also asked other correctional officers and inmates to speak with individuals suspected of cooperating with law enforcement investigators in an attempt to persuade them not to cooperate. The 23-count indictment includes one count of conspiracy and multiple counts of mail fraud, bribery, and witness tampering. The indictment also seeks forfeitures of any proceeds the defendants received that are traceable to the criminal conduct. Two of the correctional officers pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing, three correctional officers are awaiting trial, and the sixth correctional officer was killed in an exchange of gunfire that he initiated during the execution of the arrest warrants.

  • An investigation by the OIG’s Chicago Field Office led to the arrest of two BOP correctional officers assigned to the FCI in Greenville, Illinois, on charges of deprivation of civil rights under color of law, conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and obstruction of justice. One of the correctional officers was additionally charged with making false statements. OIG investigators developed evidence that the correctional officers beat an inmate in his cell, blocked the views of surveillance cameras to conceal the incident, and made false entries in government documents. One of the correctional officers also provided a false affidavit to the OIG regarding how the inmate received his injuries. The case is being prosecuted by the Civil Rights Division and the USAO for the Southern District of Illinois. Judicial proceedings continue.

  • Multiple investigations by the OIG’s El Paso Area Office resulted in the arrest of five BOP contract correctional officers assigned to the Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Texas, on various charges, including bribery of a public official, providing or possessing contraband in prison, and sexual abuse of a ward. The investigations determined that three correctional officers accepted money from inmates in exchange for smuggling contraband into the detention center, a fourth correctional officer was sexually involved with an inmate, and a fifth correctional officer was sexually involved with an inmate and accepted money from him and other inmates for smuggling marijuana into the detention center. Three correctional officers pled guilty, and judicial proceedings continue for the other two. All five correctional officers have resigned.

  • An investigation by the OIG’s New York Field Office developed evidence that a BOP correctional officer provided contraband, including drugs, to inmates housed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York in exchange for cash payments totaling $8,000. The correctional officer was sentenced in the Southern District of New York to 18 months’ incarceration and 3 years’ supervised release on charges of bribery and introduction of contraband.

  • A joint investigation by the OIG’s Houston Area Office and the DHS OIG led to the arrest of a BOP senior correctional officer assigned to the U.S. Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana, on charges of theft of public funds and wire fraud. The investigation disclosed that the correctional officer falsely claimed to be a victim of Hurricane Katrina and received more than $33,000 in benefits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Red Cross, and other contributions. Judicial proceedings continue.

  • A joint investigation by the OIG’s Los Angeles Field Office and the FBI led to the arrest of a BOP correctional officer assigned to the U.S. Penitentiary in Lompoc, California, on charges of bribery and introduction of contraband. During an undercover operation, the correctional officer accepted drugs, merchandise, and a cash bribe of $7,500 in exchange for smuggling contraband into the institution. The correctional officer resigned from his position. Judicial proceedings continue.

  • A joint investigation by the OIG’s Miami Field Office and the FBI led to the arrest of a BOP correctional officer assigned to the Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Florida, on a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana. The investigators developed evidence that the correctional officer provided an inmate with drugs and merchandise. During the investigation, the correctional officer met with an OIG undercover agent and accepted $2,000 for the delivery plus an additional $16,000 for future deliveries. The correctional officer resigned from her position as a result of the investigation. Judicial proceedings continue.

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 PRR was sent to the BOP during this reporting period:

The OIG investigated a Muslim inmate’s allegation that BOP staff violated his civil rights and civil liberties by preventing him from praying in the library. Our investigation found that when the inmate questioned an instruction from a BOP staff member forbidding prayer in the library on the basis that the inmate had been allowed to pray in that location in the past, the inmate was punished for refusing to obey an order.

The OIG reviewed current BOP policies on prayer and found a lack of guidelines — specifically when and where inmates are allowed to pray aloud — that could create a perception of religious discrimination or violation of religious freedom and privacy because the matter is left to the discretion of individual staff members. The OIG recommended that the BOP consider developing policies, which may need to be institution specific, establishing when and where individual inmates may pray aloud or engage in other ritualized prayer. A response from the BOP to the PRR is pending.

Ongoing Work

Review of Health and Safety Issues at BOP Computer Recycling Facilities

The OIG is investigating allegations that BOP management failed to adequately examine a claim that workers and inmates at several BOP institutions were exposed to unsafe levels of lead, cadmium, and other hazardous materials in computer recycling plants operated by Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR). The OIG opened its investigation after the Office of Special Counsel determined that an earlier investigation by the BOP failed to adequately address allegations by a BOP safety manager that UNICOR’s computer recycling operations were unsafe.

« Previous Table of Contents Next »