|The BOP operates a nationwide system of prisons and detention facilities to incarcerate individuals 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 203,700 federal offenders, 167,150 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.|
The OIG previously examined the USMS’s and the Criminal Division’s roles in the Department’s Witness Security Program (WITSEC), which provides protection to federal witnesses and their family members. Our third audit in this series assessed the BOP’s role in WITSEC, including the BOP’s security for WITSEC prisoners in its custody.
The OIG’s audit concluded that the BOP provides a secure environment for WITSEC inmates, but several program areas are in need of improvement. In our review, we identified at least 120 individuals who posed a threat to 23 WITSEC inmates but who were not entered into SENTRY – the primary information system used by the BOP to manage inmate population – because the BOP did not have all the required identifying information. We recommended that individuals who may pose a threat to WITSEC inmates should be entered into SENTRY even when only partial identifying information is available because this information can still be used to avoid placing an inmate in close proximity to an inmate who poses a threat. We also determined that, although the Inmate Monitoring Section’s headquarters staff and other select staff members are required to maintain a Top Secret security clearance, other BOP employees with access to WITSEC inmates and information generally undergo only basic background checks.
Since FY 1982, 20 inmates have died while participating in WITSEC, primarily due to natural causes or illness. However, death certificates showing cause of death were on file for only 12 of the deceased inmates. The absence of death certificates for the remaining eight inmates creates uncertainty whether the deaths were related to the inmates’ participation in the program. Moreover, an autopsy report confirmed that one of the deaths was a suicide, and the lack of an autopsy report in another inmate’s file raised questions as to whether the death was confirmed as a suicide. BOP policy states that the warden is not required to order an autopsy of a deceased inmate. We recommended that the BOP should have an autopsy performed whenever a WITSEC inmate dies in custody by homicide, suicide, accident, or unknown causes, and that the BOP should maintain copies of those autopsy reports along with copies of the death certificates.
We also found that the BOP’s Inmate Monitoring Section did not accumulate statistical data on WITSEC activity in several key areas, including the number of WITSEC inmates terminated from the program or released from the BOP and released inmates who transferred into the USMS’s WITSEC program. In addition, the BOP does not separately budget or account for the operating costs of its Protective Custody Units that house WITSEC inmates.
We made 18 recommendations to assist the BOP in strengthening its management of WITSEC. The BOP and OIG have reached agreement on all but 3 of the report’s 18 recommendations.
During this reporting period, the OIG received 2,460 complaints involving the BOP. The most common allegations made against BOP employees were job performance failure; force, abuse, and rights violations; and security and custody failure. The vast majority of complaints dealt with non-criminal issues that the OIG referred to the BOP’s Office of Internal Affairs for review.
At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 219 open cases of alleged misconduct against BOP employees. The criminal investigations covered a wide range of allegations, including introduction of contraband, bribery, and sexual abuse. The following are examples of cases involving the BOP that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:
- An investigation by the OIG’s Atlanta Area Office led to the arrest of a BOP contract specialist in the Northern District of Georgia on charges of embezzlement and making false statements. OIG investigators developed evidence that on numerous occasions the contract specialist used her government purchasing card to buy more than $10,000 in unauthorized personal items, such as iPods, baseball uniforms, televisions, and videogames and players. In addition, she used her government gas card to purchase more than $5,000 in fuel for her personal vehicle.
- An investigation by the OIG’s New York Field Office resulted in the sentencing of a BOP correctional officer to 10 years’ incarceration followed by 3 years’ supervised release for sexual abuse of a ward and a concurrent sentence of 15 years’ incarceration followed by 5 years’ supervised release for use of an interstate facility in the commission of a murder for hire. OIG investigators developed evidence that the correctional officer engaged in a sexual act with a female inmate, agreed to pay the inmate $5,000 to arrange for the murder of the correctional officer’s wife, and traveled from his residence in New York to his place of employment in Connecticut with the intent to have his wife murdered. In furtherance of the crime, the correctional officer caused his wife to reinstate him as the beneficiary of her life insurance policy and used the U.S. mail to accomplish this result.
- The OIG’s Washington Field Office investigated allegations that a BOP inmate was physically and verbally abused by correctional officers because of his Arab ethnicity and Muslim faith. The OIG investigation substantiated that the inmate was subjected to verbal abuse by two correctional officers because of his ethnicity and religion and that one of the correctional officers physically abused the inmate by pushing him into a wall. The OIG provided its findings to the BOP for appropriate disciplinary action.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Dallas Field Office led to the arrest and guilty plea by a BOP correctional officer in the Northern District of Texas to charges of bribery of a public official. OIG investigators determined that during a 9-month period the correctional officer smuggled tobacco into the correctional facility in exchange for approximately $12,000 in bribes. The correctional officer resigned from the BOP and was subsequently sentenced to 46 months’ incarceration followed by 2 years’ supervised release.
- In our September 2008 Semiannual Report To Congress, we reported on an investigation by the OIG’s Washington Field Office that led to the arrest of a BOP senior correctional officer on charges of bribery of a public official, sexual abuse of a ward, conspiracy to possess contraband in a federal prison, and possession of contraband in a federal prison. OIG investigators determined that the senior correctional officer accepted cash payments and jewelry from an inmate in exchange for sex and provided contraband to the inmate, including marijuana, prescription drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. During this reporting period, the senior correctional officer was sentenced to 21 months’ incarceration pursuant to her guilty plea to charges of bribery of a public official and carnal knowledge with an inmate.