Semiannual Report to Congress
April 1, 2006-September 30, 2006
Office of the Inspector General
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.
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:
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.
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.
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