THE COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS CENTER PROGRAM
IN THE BUREAU OF PRISONS
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) began contracting with cities, counties, states, and independent contractors in 1967 to provide community-based residential programs and services to offenders. The passage of the Residential Community Treatment Act of 1970 expanded the need for Community Treatment Center Programs and services because the Act allowed the courts to place qualified offenders directly into Community Treatment Centers. Between 1967 and 1982, Community Treatment Centers were operated by both the BOP and independent contractors. In 1982, the BOP decided to close its own Community Treatment Centers, since independent contractors were providing sufficient resources. The privately contracted Community Treatment Centers were subsequently renamed Community Corrections Centers (CCCs).
The mission of Community Corrections is to provide programs and facilities for federal offenders serving their sentences in non-BOP locations. They are also instrumental in classifying and placing new offenders in BOP and non-BOP facilities.
The BOPs' CCC Program provides federal prison inmates a transition back to the communities where they will live upon release from federal custody. Community Corrections Centers provide services to inmates attempting to establish themselves as fully functional citizens. Besides food and housing, CCCs offer job counseling, academic and vocational training, family reconciliation services, access to substance abuse programs, post-release housing referrals, and community adjustment services. These services are provided as needed by the individual.
The BOP and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC), a non-DOJ agency, are responsible for monitoring persons convicted of federal crimes. The BOP is responsible for individuals sentenced to prison. Some BOP inmates later transition to CCCs or home confinement. The AOUSC is responsible for individuals sentenced directly to CCCs or home confinement. The AOUSC refers individuals to the BOP who are sentenced directly to CCCs (hereinafter referred to as supervision cases). In FY 1994, the AOUSC referred about 3,000 of the 20,000 inmates referred to CCCs, costing the BOP about $14 million. All BOP home confinees supervised by AOUSC are electronically monitored. The electronic monitoring system used by Probation consist of a transmitter worn by the home confinee. The signal is received by a receiver dialer, a unit installed at the monitored location, which notifies the central computer of a change in the inmate's status when the inmate comes within or goes out of range of the unit. The central computer contains the inmate's schedule and, when notified of a change in the inmate's status, compares the time of the change with the schedule to determine if the break in contact is authorized.
Within BOP Headquarters, the Community Corrections and Detention Division is responsible for oversight of community corrections and detention contract activities nationwide. In each of the six BOP regional offices, the Community Corrections Regional Administrator is responsible for community corrections, contract confinement, and detention services. The Regional Administrators also manage 13 Management Center Administrators and the activities of 32 Community Corrections Offices throughout the United States. Each Management Center Administrator is responsible for community corrections, contract confinement, and detention activities within his/her geographic area. Each Community Corrections Office has a Community Corrections Manager who is responsible for the development, administration, and oversight of residential and nonresidential services provided through contractual agreements.
The BOP jointly accounts for CCC and home confinement costs through its Community Corrections and Detention Division. During FY 1994, the BOP had 250 CCC contracts with state and local governments, nonprofit agencies, and private contractors who provided an average of 5,191 bed spaces monthly, which accommodated about 20,000 inmates annually. The BOP's cost of serving these inmates, excluding those placed on home confinement, was $65.7 million of the $72.4 million total cost. [ We estimated the cost of the home confinement program to be about $6.7 million, plus about $270,000 paid to the AOUSC for electronic monitoring of home confinees. The results of our audit on BOP's home confinement program are contained in Report Number 96-09, The Home Confinement Program in the Bureau of Prisons.] These expenditures supported an average monthly population of 4,230 inmates. As of the first quarter of FY 1995, the BOP had expended $18.7 million on the Community Corrections Program. The BOP reported the daily net cost of keeping an inmate in a CCC in FY 1994 was $39 versus an average cost of $47 [ This amount is the average daily cost to imprison an inmate in minimum, low, and medium security facilities. It includes $4 overhead, but does not include high security or medical facilities, etc., because offenders in these facilities normally are not referred to CCCs.] in prison.
The average daily population of CCCs increased from about 4,400 inmates in FY 1992 to an estimated 5,800 in FY 1995, a 32 percent increase. Because of institutional growth, the BOP projected the CCC population would increase by 1,200 inmates, with the average daily population reaching 7,000 inmates by FY 1996. Community Correction Center operators may accept 25 percent more than the contracted number of inmates without a new contract. The BOP has the authority to award contracts up to 5 years -- a 2-year base period with three 1-year renewal options. The options are at the BOP's discretion only. The BOP's Community Corrections officials are responsible for monitoring CCCs to ensure services are provided in accordance with the contract.
We focused the audit on CCC operations for FY 1994 and the first quarter of FY 1995. Our audit scope and methodology are contained in Appendix II.
In our judgment CCCs were a cost-effective, safe alternative to incarceration. The BOP effectively negotiated, awarded, and monitored contracts. Further, as discussed in Appendix I, CCC officers, directors, and professional staff we interviewed were generally satisfied with the services and the BOP's level of management and oversight. However, we determined that operations can be improved by:
requiring the AOUSC to reimburse the BOP its $14 million annual cost for supervision cases residing in BOP CCCs; and
clarifying policy for subsistence collections to eliminate variations in practice among the BOP's regions.
We also followed up on prior audits of the CCC program and found that the BOP had taken corrective actions on prior findings (See Appendix III). In the area of referring inmates to CCCs, even though the BOP has made progress, it has not optimized inmate referrals and fully reduced BOP housing costs. The BOP improved overall bed usage from 73 percent in FY 1990 to about 81 percent in FY 1994. For the first quarter of FY 1995, the usage rate was about 87 percent. [ According to BOP management, the FY 1990 overall bed usage of 73 percent included those on home confinement. Recently BOP began excluding the home confinement population when reporting overall bed usage. In FY 1994, the average monthly home confinement population was 851. In the first quarter of FY 1995, the average monthly prorated home confinement population was 618. ]
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
FINDING 1. EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF PROGRAM OPERATIONS
Costs of the BOP and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
The BOP provides CCC services to the AOUSC for inmates sentenced directly to CCCs. In FY 1994, the AOUSC referred about 3,000 cases to CCCs, at a cost to the BOP of about $14 million. In FY 1993, the AOUSC referred about 3,400 cases, at a cost to the BOP of about $18 million. The AOUSC does not reimburse the BOP for these costs. In contrast, the BOP pays the AOUSC about $270,000 for electronically monitoring BOP inmates on AOUSC administered home confinement.
In July 1994, the Attorney General addressed concerns raised by federal judges about how the BOP can do more to cover the cost of drug treatment for offenders in the community. The Attorney General pointed out that the BOP already provides substantial assistance to the AOUSC, not only with respect to drug treatment, but in other areas such as monitoring and paying the costs of offenders who are the financial responsibility of AOUSC. In discussions between the BOP and the AOUSC, both agencies have acknowledged that the outlay to hold probationers and supervision violators is the responsibility of the Probation Service. However, BOP feels the subsidy is necessary to sustain a good working relationship with the courts.
In our judgment providing free services to the AOUSC when there is no legal requirement to do so is not a sound business practice. The practice materially overstates BOP's expenses and understates AOUSCs' expenses for the CCC Program.
We recommend the Director, BOP:
1. Negotiate a reimbursable agreement with the AOUSC for the cost of supervision cases referred to CCCs.
The BOP was not making full use of available CCC beds. This finding was previously reported by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the General Accounting Office (GAO) as discussed in Appendix III. On average, 961 of the 5,191 CCC beds available monthly under contract to the BOP were unused during FY 1994. Also, the federal prison system, which costs more to house inmates than CCCs, was reported by the BOP to be operating at 125 percent [ Capacity based on double occupancy in 100 percent of the minimum and low security facilities, 50 percent in medium security, and 25 percent in high security.] of rated capacity.
It was less costly to house an inmate in a CCC than in a prison. During FY 1994, CCC operations cost an average of $42 plus $3 overhead per inmate per day. Community Corrections Centers collected an average of $6 subsistence daily from each inmate, making the net cost $39 to the BOP. In comparison, the BOP reported an average daily cost to imprison an inmate as $47 (See Footnote 2 on page 2).
The BOP's objective is to maximize the use of CCC bed space by setting target rates for referring inmates: at least 80 percent of the inmates from minimum security prisons, at least 70 percent of the inmates from low security prisons, and at least 65 percent of the inmates from medium security prisons.
In FY 1994, the overall referral rate for minimum security prisons was 81 percent, low security prisons was 61 percent, and medium security prisons was 56 percent. However, CCC referral rates varied widely among individual prisons of the same security level. Referral rates for minimum security prisons ranged from 59 to 100 percent, low security prisons ranged from 42 to 83 percent, and medium security prisons from 39 to 69 percent.
The BOP had improved overall bed usage from 73 percent in FY 1990 to about 81 percent in FY 1994. For the first quarter of FY 1995, the usage rate was about 87 percent (See Footnote 3 on page 3). While the number of bed spaces had increased from 1990 to 1994, the BOP was not making full use of available beds. During FY 1994, as many as 75 CCCs were operating below 70 percent of capacity. While the BOP was not billed for the cost of empty beds, it did not realize cost savings that would have resulted by placing inmates from higher cost federal institutions into CCCs.
Criteria for Referrals. Inmates in the following categories are not ordinarily referred to CCCs: (1) aggressive sex offenders, (2) deportable aliens, (3) inmates who require psychological or psychiatric treatment or inpatient medical care, (4) inmates who refuse to participate in the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program, [ A program established by BOP that required inmates to contribute to the cost of their CCC residence through subsistence payments.] (5) inmates with unresolved pending charges, (6) inmates serving total sentences of 6 months or less, and (7) inmates who pose a significant threat to the community. The BOP defined "significant threat" as an inmate whose crime or behavioral history suggested a substantial or continuing threat to the community.
If an inmate poses a significant threat to the community and is excluded from a CCC, the Warden must sign a memorandum that explains the rationale for exclusion. If an inmate is excluded from a CCC because he or she refused to participate, both the Associate Warden and inmate must sign a memorandum that explains the inmate's rationale for refusal.
To determine whether inmates still in prisons were properly excluded from CCCs, we reviewed files for 123 inmates who were within 60 days of release and had been excluded from the program. One hundred of the 123 inmates had been considered and excluded from CCCs in accordance with guidelines. However, of the remaining 23:
Nine inmates had been excluded with no memoranda signed by the Warden to explain the rationale for exclusion.
Nine inmates had been excluded because they refused to participate in the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program; however, there were no memoranda signed by the Associate Warden and inmate to explain their rationale for exclusion.
Two inmates had been excluded for reasons not set forth in the BOP's "Utilization and Transfer Procedures." One inmate had failed to make child support payments, and the other had violated probation with a drunk driving conviction.
Three inmates had been excluded because of oversight. Two were referred, but had not been placed; one was simply not asked to participate.
By increasing placements in CCCs, the BOP could reduce prison overcrowding, achieve monetary savings, and better prepare inmates for their return to the community. Also, the BOP is building prisons at an unprecedented rate to alleviate crowding in the prison system. By placing suitable inmates in empty CCC beds, the BOP could eliminate the need for or make available an average of 961 new prison beds. Such placements would allow the BOP to use prison space for other offenders. Additional benefits to the taxpayer would be that inmates in CCCs obtain jobs, pay taxes on wages earned, and pay a percentage of their earnings to offset the BOP's cost.
We recommend the Director, BOP:
2. Reemphasize utilization criteria to maximize the usage of CCC bed spaces.
Subsistence Collection Policy
To promote personal financial responsibility, the BOP requires inmates to contribute 25 percent of their weekly gross income toward the cost of their food and lodging. These subsistence payments are made directly to CCC contractors who, in turn, reduce their monthly billings to the BOP by the amount collected. The inmates' financial obligations should ordinarily be paid in the following priority: (1) special assessments imposed under 18 USC 3013, (2) Court ordered restitution, (3) fines and court costs, (4) state or local court obligations, and (5) other federal government obligations (28 USC 545.11). Subsistence payments are included in category (5).
To assess BOP and contractor management controls and procedures for reporting, collecting, and verifying subsistence payments, we accompanied BOP on two full CCC monitoring reviews. We also tested subsistence controls and procedures at another CCC. Both BOP and CCC contractors had controls and procedures in place to ensure accurate subsistence collections and bill reductions. We also assessed the BOP Program Review Division's oversight of each level of Community Corrections Management. We found that the program reviews and work papers were performed in accordance with program statements.
During the audit period, the BOP's expenditures of $91.1 million were supplemented by approximately $14 million through subsistence collections. However, collections could have been higher. The statement of work for CCC contractors is vague, stating that subsistence payments should only be waived or reduced in "very unusual circumstances." Because waivers or reductions in subsistence payments were considered at the request of the inmate, the current policy allowed too wide a variation in practice because of the BOP Community Corrections Managers' interpretations, both in terms of contribution percentage and reasons for waivers.
To assess BOP Community Corrections Managers' interpretation and application of the statement of work, we reviewed 55 full and partial subsistence waivers in effect during April 1995. There were 35 waivers for BOP inmates and 20 waivers for supervision cases. In our judgment, 51 of the 55 waivers (93 percent), totaling about $39,000, did not meet the criteria "very unusual circumstances."
For the 51 waivers, 33 BOP inmates accounted for about $26,000, while 18 supervision cases accounted for about $13,000. We considered the justifications provided in the 51 waivers as "usual" for individuals in these circumstances, and as such, they did not meet the criteria, "very unusual circumstances." The BOP Community Corrections Managers granted waivers for: (1) non-medical financial hardship, (2) preparation for home confinement, (3) payment of child support, (4) saving for education, and (5) payment of outstanding court fines and restitution. While some of these waivers appeared reasonable, we believe the BOP should ensure consistent interpretation of the policy. We considered the remaining 4 waivers, totaling about $1,000, as justified. In one case, the BOP waived collection of subsistence on overtime earnings. In the other three cases, the inmate or the inmate's spouse had serious medical problems.
The courts waived all subsistence collections for 11 of 20 supervision cases we tested. According to BOP personnel, the judges in one district consistently waived collection of subsistence payments without regard to circumstances. The judges in this district accounted for 8 of the 11 cases in which all the subsistence was waived. In contrast to the courts, the BOP waived only a portion of the 25 percent requirement for 20 of the 35 sampled BOP waivers. For 9 of 20 waivers, the BOP Community Corrections Managers required the waived amounts to be placed in a savings account to aid the inmate's return to the community. In our judgment, the inequity in granting waivers between the courts and the BOP could adversely affect relationships among inmates within a CCC. Also, considering the ratio of unjustified waivers in our sample and projecting the results to the annual CCC population of about 20,000, the subsistence losses to the BOP could be substantial.
An example of success in applying the BOP's subsistence policy was set by the Southeast Region. Of the six BOP regions, the Southeast Region collected the most subsistence per work day per inmate in FY 1994. This is all the more important since the Southeast Region was only fourth in the number of inmate days. The Southeast Region's success should be a model for the other regions in applying the subsistence policy.
We recommend the Director, BOP:
3. In conjunction with the AOUSC, attempt to eliminate the inequity in granting waivers to ensure that supervision cases are subject to the same subsistence collection policies as BOP inmates.
4. Clearly define the circumstances in which Community Correction Managers may waive or reduce an inmate's subsistence payments.
FINDING 2. EFFECTIVENESS OF CONTRACT ADMINISTRATION
The BOP's Community Corrections Contracting Section effectively negotiated, awarded, and monitored contracts. We reviewed 11 of 30 CCC contracts awarded during FY 1994. These 11 contracts totaled about $9 million. Management controls were in place to ensure: (1) contract procurements were thorough, competitive, well documented, and timely completed; and (2) contracts were monitored in accordance with the statement of work.
Procurement documents were accurate and fully and clearly described the contracts' requirements for the 11 contracts. Pre-award files had documentation that: justified the specific contract used, provided efforts to gain full and adequate competition, and set milestones to track each procurement action. Procurement actions were initiated and processed in a timely manner. In addition, Community Corrections Contracting Managers reviewed each pre-award file to ensure compliance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
The BOP's Community Corrections Offices monitor CCCs' contractor performance by conducting both full and interim monitorings. Full monitorings are conducted at least every 18 months depending on the size of the CCC. Interim monitorings are conducted at least two times between each full monitoring depending on the size of the CCC. Interim monitorings are: announced and unannounced, conducted at varying times during the day, and not as thorough and comprehensive as the full monitoring.
We examined and tested the process used to monitor CCC contractors. In our judgment, the monitoring process provided the BOP a thorough review of the contractors' operations and included a close examination of the contract's requirements. Further, our observations and testing found that both the BOP and its CCC contractors had controls and procedures in place to ensure accurate oversight and reporting.
In addition to our testing, we surveyed 13 CCC directors to ascertain their opinions on monitorings. They stated that BOP staff regularly monitored their performance. Three of the 13 directors told us the consistency of monitoring had improved in the last year. Seven directors saw no improvement, and one of the seven directors claimed that inconsistency was inherent due to the subjective nature of the process. The remaining three directors did not respond or had not been involved in any monitorings.
The CCC directors and staff provided suggestions to streamline and improve the monitoring process. Several personnel suggested BOP: (1) focus only on the statement of work requirements; (2) reduce the frequency of monitoring visits if a CCC has had several consecutive monitorings with no findings; (3) reduce full monitorings to once every 2 years; (4) give monitors more flexibility in deciding whether a violation was significant; (5) prepare monitoring reports that only reflect the findings presented at the exit conference; and, (6) make the monitoring process a more positive experience by identifying areas where the CCC had excelled, as well as areas needing improvement.
SCHEDULE OF DOLLAR RELATED FINDINGS
|FUNDS TO BETTER USE [ FUNDS TO BETTER USE are defined as future funds that could be used more efficiently if management took actions to implement and complete audit recommendations.]||AMOUNT||PAGE|
|Annual BOP operating costs for providing CCC services to AOUSC offenders.||$14,000,000||4|
OTHER REPORTABLE MATTER
Program and Operational Reviews
The BOP conducts both program and operational reviews of its Community Corrections Offices to assess the internal operations of the CCC program. A program review is an independent evaluation, performed biannually, by the Program Review Division. An operational review is a self-evaluation conducted by staff within each region. According to the BOP's program guidelines for Community Corrections field offices, operational reviews must: (1) be conducted at least every 2 years to coincide with the year after the last program review, (2) adhere to the Government Auditing Standards, and (3) be retained until the subsequent program review has been conducted and a final report issued.
We assessed the Program Review Division's oversight of each level of the BOP's Community Corrections management. We reviewed the most recent program reviews of BOP Headquarters, one Regional Administrator, two Management Center Administrators, and one Community Corrections Manager. Each program review was performed in accordance with program statements.
We examined ten operational reviews and found that the BOP's guidelines for documentation were not always followed. The work papers for four of the operational reviews lacked sufficient documentation of the work performed and did not support the reports. The work papers for another operational review in 1994 were discarded before the subsequent program review report was issued in final. The work papers for yet another were not maintained in an orderly, business-like manner. In addition, a BOP Community Corrections Manager did not conduct an operational review since the last program review in October 1993. While findings were reported and subsequently corrected, the work papers did not always fully support the findings. As a result, we did not rely on this information in evaluating other Community Corrections programs.