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 38,100 employees and operates 116 institutions, 6 regional offices, and 2 staff training centers. The BOP is responsible for the custody and care of approximately 209,300 federal offenders, more than 172,500 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 issued a report examining the BOP’s e-waste recycling program. The BOP’s e-waste program is run by UNICOR, a government corporation within the BOP that employs staff and inmates at federal prisons throughout the United States. UNICOR began its e-waste recycling program in the mid-1990s. It accepts computers, monitors, printers, and other types of e-waste for recycling at federal prisons. UNICOR sells these e-waste items following refurbishment, or after disassembling the items into their component parts. When e-waste is disassembled and recycled, workers can be exposed to toxic metals that can cause serious health implications.
The OIG reviewed the operation of UNICOR’s e-waste recycling operations after complaints arose about unsafe working conditions at some UNICOR facilities. Four federal agencies with expertise in health, safety, and environmental compliance assisted the OIG in this investigation. The OIG investigation examined e-waste recycling at all 10 institutions where UNICOR performed e-waste recycling, although two of these had stopped recycling before our field work began. The OIG’s investigation identified significant safety and environmental problems with UNICOR’s e-waste program. We found that when UNICOR began the program, it did not implement adequate measures to address the safety of staff and inmates who were employed in the program. As a result, staff and inmates at several BOP institutions were exposed to levels of the toxic metals cadmium and lead that exceeded OSHA standards.
The OIG’s investigation determined that beginning in 2003, UNICOR took steps to improve the health, safety, and environmental compliance performance of the ewaste program. However, despite these steps, our investigation found that prior to 2009, UNICOR failed to timely institute adequate policies to protect staff and inmates from the hazards associated with e-waste recycling, to properly advise staff and inmates about hazards once they were identified and to correct them, and to conduct e-waste operations in compliance with applicable health, safety, and environmental regulations. By 2009, with limited exceptions, UNICOR’s e-waste operations were compliant with OSHA requirements and were being operated safely.
During the course of our review, the OIG’s technical team made a total of 47 separate recommendations to assist UNICOR to address deficiencies at UNICOR’s e-waste factories. UNICOR, the BOP, and the Department have made progress toward addressing these technical recommendations, and 31 have been closed. Our final report identified 12 additional recommendations to the BOP and the Department, which the BOP agreed to implement.
During this reporting period, the OIG received 3,097 complaints involving the BOP. The most common allegations made against BOP employees included official misconduct and force, abuse, and rights violations. 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.
During this reporting period, the OIG opened 102 investigations and referred 16 allegations to the BOP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) for action or investigation. At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 208 open cases of alleged misconduct against BOP employees. The criminal investigations covered a wide range of allegations, including official misconduct and force, abuse, and rights violations.
|Source: Investigations Data Management System|
The following are examples of cases involving the BOP that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:
- A joint investigation by the OIG’s Chicago Field Office and the DEA led to the arrest and guilty plea of a BOP dentist assigned to the FCI in Manchester, Kentucky, to charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance. The dentist admitted to converting for his personal use more than 2,000 tablets of roxicet (a generic form of the pain killer Percocet) over a 6-year period. The dentist concealed his thefts by substituting medications and fabricating inmates' medical records. The dentist resigned from his position with the BOP as a result of the OIG investigation. Sentencing is pending.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Denver Field Office led to the arrest and guilty plea of a BOP recreation specialist assigned to the FCI in Florence, Colorado, to bribery charges. The investigation determined that over a 4-month period, the recreation specialist provided tobacco to inmates in exchange for $17,000. The recreation specialist has been suspended without pay.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Dallas Field Office resulted in the arrests of two BOP correctional officers assigned to the Eden Detention Center in Eden, Texas, based on an indictment returned in the Northern District of Texas charging destruction, alteration, and falsification of records in a federal investigation. The indictment alleges that the correctional officers made false entries on prison cell logs that impeded the investigation of an attempted suicide by a high-risk inmate. The correctional officers were dismissed from their positions by the Eden Detention Center as a result of our investigation.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Los Angeles Field Office led to the arrest of a BOP correctional officer assigned to the Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) in Victorville, California, and a UNICOR vendor on conspiracy and bribery charges. The investigation determined that the correctional officer, who also served as a UNICOR contract specialist, used his position to gain monetary rewards by violating the federal procurement standards and bidding processes. The contract specialist devised a sophisticated scheme through which at least $1 million in federal contracts were awarded to the UNICOR vendor with whom he had a personal relationship. In turn, the UNICOR vendor would pay $140,000 in kickbacks to the contract specialist and his accomplices, one of whom has already pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing. Judicial proceedings continue for the BOP contract specialist and the UNICOR vendor.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Atlanta Area Office led to the arrest and guilty plea of a BOP correctional officer in the District of South Carolina to charges of providing contraband to FCI Edgefield inmates. The correctional officer admitted to providing tobacco and marijuana to inmates in exchange for over $9,000 in bribes. A consent search of the correctional officer’s lunch box resulted in the seizure of five large zip-lock bags containing tobacco, which the correctional officer admitted were intended for an inmate. The correctional officer resigned from the BOP immediately following his OIG interview. Sentencing is pending.
- A joint investigation by the OIG’s New Jersey Area Office and the Burlington, New Jersey, Police Department led to the arrest of a BOP senior correctional officer assigned to the FCI in Fort Dix, New Jersey, on Florida state charges of solicitation of a minor via computer. The joint investigation determined that the senior correctional officer engaged in online and cellular telephone communication with an undercover Orlando police officer representing herself to be a 14 year-old girl. The senior correctional officer solicited sexual activity in the communications. He was placed on administrative leave by BOP.
- A joint investigation by the OIG’s Washington Field Office and the Streamwood, Illinois, Police Department resulted in the arrest of a former BOP inmate on Illinois state theft charges. The investigation identified the former inmate as the user of the eBay account from which Bernie Madoff’s BOP identification card was sold. The former inmate admitted that he had smuggled the identification card out of the FCC Butner upon his release and subsequently sold it on eBay. The former inmate told the OIG that he received the card from another inmate and that no BOP personnel were involved in the theft.
Management of Residential Reentry Centers
The OIG is examining the BOP’s management of Residential Reentry Centers (RRCs) which provide a structured, supervised environment for inmates readjusting to their communities, as well as employment counseling, job placement, financial management assistance, and other programs and services. The audit will determine whether the BOP effectively monitors RRC performance, whether RRC operations are conducted in compliance with BOP requirements, and whether the BOP administers its RRC contracts in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies.
The OIG is reviewing the BOP’s hiring of correctional officers to evaluate how effectively the BOP identifies unsuitable applicants for these positions.