Semiannual Report to Congress

April 1, 2010 – September 30, 2010
Office of the Inspector General

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Photo of a prisonThe 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 37,000 employees and operates 115 institutions, 6 regional offices, and 2 staff training centers. The BOP is responsible for the custody and care of approximately 210,500 federal offenders, more than 173,000 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

Audit of the BOP’s Furlough Program

The OIG’s Audit Division evaluated the BOP’s furlough program. The BOP furlough program allows “an authorized absence from an institution by an inmate who is not under escort of a BOP staff member, U.S. Marshal, or state or federal agents.” For FYs 2007 through 2009, the BOP reported that it granted 162,655 furloughs to 90,002 inmates. Approximately 13 percent of BOP’s inmate population was granted a furlough each year.

In general, the BOP grants two types of furloughs – transfer and non-transfer. Non-transfer furloughs, where an inmate is allowed to leave and return to the same institution, generally are used to allow an inmate to receive short-term medical treatment, to strengthen an inmate’s family ties, or to allow an inmate to participate in educational, religious, or work-related activities. Transfer furloughs generally are used to transfer an inmate to another BOP institution, a medical facility for long-term treatment, or a halfway house when the inmate is nearing the end of his sentence.

Our audit found that, in general, the BOP has established and exercised appropriate controls to ensure that non-transfer furloughs were granted and processed in accordance with BOP policy. However, the audit identified several weaknesses with the BOP’s current furlough policy and with the BOP’s processing and documenting of transfer furloughs.

For example, we found that the BOP furlough policy did not require BOP staff to notify victims and witnesses when an inmate is released on a medical furlough. In 2003, the BOP drafted a new furlough policy that would require victim and witness notification when inmates are released on medical furloughs and that also addressed other weaknesses in the policy.

However, according to BOP officials, prior to implementing the new policy the BOP must negotiate this policy change with the union representing BOP employees. In this instance, 7 years after the BOP wrote a new draft policy that addresses weaknesses in the furlough program, the policy was still awaiting negotiation by the BOP and its employee union and had not been implemented.

Moreover, while the BOP agreed with the recommendation in our report to issue a revised furlough policy, the BOP responded that it estimated that the revised furlough policy would not be negotiated and implemented until December 2017. We concluded that the BOP’s timeframe for implementation of this recommendation is excessive and unacceptable. In essence, the BOP’s response to our recommendation stated that it would take a total of 14 years before furlough policy improvements are implemented to enhance victims’ rights. 

Our review also determined that the BOP did not maintain readily accessible, accurate, and consistent data on inmate escapes while on furlough. The BOP relies on largely manual processes to obtain such data. Moreover, the BOP does not regularly review and analyze data to ensure that furloughs are properly granted and adequately overseen.

We also found that the BOP could not readily provide data associated with information it had received about crimes committed by furloughed inmates. We also determined that the BOP does not conduct regular reviews of its furlough data and, therefore, it was unaware whether inmate records that appeared to show an escape or improper furlough were data entry errors or improperly released inmates.

Finally, at the two BOP institutions we visited, the BOP had not maintained adequate records to ensure that transfer furloughs were processed in accordance with BOP policy. BOP inmate records are largely manual files and BOP officials we interviewed said that file management is an organization-wide issue. 

The OIG made seven recommendations for the BOP to improve the management of furloughs. The BOP agreed with the recommendations and stated that they had begun taking actions to address them. However, because of the lengthy timeframe for implementing some of our recommendations, we considered our report to be unresolved.

Follow-up Audit of the BOP’s Efforts to Manage Inmate Health Care

During this reporting period, the OIG’s Audit Division issued a follow-up audit report examining the BOP’s efforts to manage inmate health care. The follow-up audit evaluated whether the BOP’s corrective actions in response to the recommendations in a 2008 OIG audit report were effective. We also assessed the BOP’s use of the National Practitioner Data Bank to determine if its health care providers have been involved in unethical or incompetent practices.

The 2008 OIG report had found unacceptable incidences of practitioners providing health care in BOP facilities without current privileges, practice agreements, protocols, and peer reviews. As a result of the OIG’s 2008 audit, the BOP agreed to take corrective actions to ensure its health-care practitioners were appropriately trained, skilled, and credentialed. The follow-up OIG report concluded that the BOP’s corrective actions resulted in significant improvements in its credentialing and peer review processes. However, additional improvements are needed to ensure that all BOP health care providers are operating with current authorization documents, and the BOP conducts regular peer reviews to eliminate the risk that practitioners may provide medical services without the necessary qualifications.

The audit also determined that the BOP institutions maintained National Practitioner Data Bank reports for 96 percent of its health care practitioners. The OIG recommended that the BOP take additional steps to obtain such reports for all health care providers.

In total, the OIG made seven recommendations to assist the BOP in ensuring that all health care providers have current privileges, practice agreements, protocols, and peer reviews, and that BOP has National Practitioner Data Bank reports for all of its practitioners. The BOP agreed with all of the recommendations.


During this reporting period, the OIG received 3,255 complaints involving the BOP. The most common allegations made against BOP employees included 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 its review.

At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 187 open cases of alleged misconduct against BOP employees. The criminal investigations covered a wide range of allegations, including introduction of contraband and sexual abuse. The following are examples of cases involving the BOP that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:

Ongoing Work

The Federal Prison Industries’ Electronic Waste Recycling Program

The OIG’s Oversight and Review Division is examining allegations that the Federal Prison Industries’ electronic waste recycling program exposed staff and inmates to toxic metals and caused illnesses.

The BOP’s Hiring Process

The OIG is reviewing the BOP’s hiring of correctional officers to evaluate how effectively the BOP identifies unsuitable applicants for these positions.


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