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Director Addresses Change Within BOP
Harley G. Lappin was appointed Director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in
2003. Lappin joined the BOP in 1985, and was formerly Regional Director for the
Q: Like the Judiciary, the Bureau of Prisons is dealing with
a limited budget. What is the BOP doing to stay within budget? Are these
reductions likely to impact the Judiciary?
A: For the last several years, the Bureau has been working
with constrained budgets. In addition to taking measures to reduce normal
operating costs (e.g., reducing travel and purchases of non-essential supplies
and equipment), we have undertaken a number of streamlining, consolidation, and
cost-reduction initiatives. Several of the initiatives are well underway:
management re-engineering, which has resulted in our abolishing 667 management
positions to date and improved the supervisor-to-line staff ratio; closure of
four stand-alone federal prison camps; discontinuation of three Intensive
Confinement Center (ICC) programs—the boot camp programs; consolidation of human
resource functions; centralization of sentence computation and inmate
designation activities; and identification of mission-critical posts on the
correctional roster that would be vacated only under rare circumstances
(expected to substantially reduce overtime costs).
We must continue implementing the cost-reduction and streamlining initiatives
that we have started and find ways to keep costs as low as possible, without
compromising the safety and security of our institutions. The Bureau remains
fully committed to the principles of bringing on new prison beds to reduce
crowding and staffing positions that have direct contact with inmates.
We recognize the concern voiced by some members of the Judiciary, especially
with respect to discontinuing the ICC program. However, the fact remains that
ICCs were costly to operate and no more effective in reducing recidivism than
ordinary minimum-security facilities. Operating traditional minimum security
beds in lieu of ICCs requires fewer staff and allows us to confine more
Q: Why is the BOP consolidating sentence computation and
A: The Bureau has received questions regarding our plan for
consolidating sentence computation and designation functions in Grand Prairie,
Texas, so I want to take this opportunity to share our expectations regarding
benefits that will be achieved, as well as our vision for this process. When the
Bureau assumed responsibility for District of Columbia Superior Court felons, we
centralized the sentence computation process for those inmates. We learned many
lessons from this centralized approach, and we are using the same framework to
move forward with this concept on a national level.
The Designation and Sentence Computation Center (DSCC) will join other
consolidated functions located in Grand Prairie. This consolidation is expected
to improve consistency, enhance management and oversight, and yield cost
efficiencies by developing a cadre of highly-skilled staff at one location. The
Bureau has begun to relocate staff from our community corrections offices and
institutions to the DSCC. These staff are already processing sentence
computations for newly activated institutions and other select Bureau
Once centralized, the designation process will essentially remain the same.
The Bureau will still rely on the U.S. Marshal Service (USMS) to notify us that
a prisoner is ready to be designated; and we will still need and use the
information provided in the presentence report, Statement of Reasons, Judgment
in a Criminal Case, violation reports, etc. We will fully utilize available
technology to coordinate and manage a centralized process.
During FY 2005, our community corrections offices processed almost 75,000
requests for designation. Managing this volume of paper documents at one
location is not efficient or cost-effective, whereas electronic file management
is expeditious. Similarly, electronic routing of documents would eliminate time
and expense associated with mail delivery.
Q: In December 2002, the BOP implemented a significant
procedure change regarding inmate designations to Community Correction Centers
(CCCs). What changed? And how is this working?
A: On December 20, 2002, the Bureau changed its procedure
for designating inmates to CCCs for service of prison sentences. The changes
were two-fold: first, inmates sentenced to terms of imprisonment may no longer
be directly designated to CCCs, even when recommended by the sentencing court.
Rather, all inmates serving terms of imprisonment must be initially designated
by the Bureau to prison or jail facilities. Second, pre-release CCC designations
are now limited in duration to the last 10 percent of an inmate's prison term of
service, not to exceed six months. The Bureau's procedure changes were prompted
by the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, which reviewed and
reinterpreted the Bureau's statutory authority to designate an inmate's place of
imprisonment, taking into consideration relevant U.S. Sentencing Guideline
In terms of impact on the inmate population, the December 2002 procedural
change temporarily decreased our CCC population and shortened the amount of time
inmates spent in CCCs. However, both length of stay in a CCC and our national
CCC population levels have rebounded, returning to levels comparable to those
that existed prior to the procedural change. More importantly, this change
did not affect the rate at which inmates are transferred to CCCs to
assist them in their preparation for release. Since the end of 2002, we have
continued to release over 77 percent of all eligible inmates through a halfway
house; and we are providing, on average, between three to four months of
community-based programming for inmates releasing through a CCC.
Q: The sentences of offenders serving a prison term in the
federal system also may include a period of probation or supervision following
release. How does BOP work with federal probation officers as a prisoner moves
to release status?
A: We have been working closely with the Administrative
Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) to enhance information sharing before, during,
and after incarceration. At the front end of the process, probation officers
gather information we need; then during incarceration, we gather information
probation officers need for the final stage—community supervision.
The Interagency Committee for Needed Enhancements to the Electronic Exchange
of Data (IC-NEED) is an example of collaborative efforts designed to improve
communication effectiveness and information flow. This workgroup was originally
established to promote data exchange between the AO and the Bureau for research
purposes. However, given broader government and public interest in inmate
re-entry and its relevance to the Bureau's Inmate Skills Development initiative,
the potential benefits to including other agencies became obvious. This
partnership now includes representatives from the AO, U.S. Probation and
Pretrial Services System, Office of the Federal Detention Trustee, USMS, U.S.
Sentencing Commission, U.S. Parole Commission, and the Bureau. The purpose of
the group is to establish common data elements (definitions, formats, etc.) and
the mechanisms for efficiently sharing each agency's operational data in an
electronic format. Instrumental to data exchange is the identification of a
common case identifier. The workgroup grappled with this issue and the
collective agreement was to use the USMS' number. More recently the focus has
been on working with the AO on the automation of the presentence report (PSR).
The AO asked for input regarding what other agencies need that is not currently
in the PSR, as well as items needing modification. The automation of the PSR
will itemize every data element, so that all of the PSR data needs of affected
agencies will be delivered in an electronic format. This will provide the Bureau
with tremendous efficiency; everything that we currently extract from that
document, like the information needed for security and medical designations,
drug and mental health treatment identification, and so forth, will come to us
electronically. This will allow for a complete automation of our designation
process, perhaps requiring only a visual confirmation by a staff member, rather
than the labor intensive process currently required. The AO is making incredible
progress on its development agenda. In exchange, the AO will receive data on
each inmate's progress toward skills development while in Bureau custody,
including, for example, drug treatment, job training, and academic training
performance. Furthermore, we will be able to easily report who is expected to be
released at any point in the future. This way, probation officers will know who
will be on their caseload next week, next month, or next year, and what special
housing, program, or other needs they might have to arrange for this
Additionally, Bureau staff complete a Supervised Release Statement and a
final progress report at least 90 days prior to an inmate's release to the
community or upon referral to a halfway house. The Supervised Release Statement
contains the inmate's proposed release residence, proposed employment,
conditions of release, and detainer information if applicable. The progress
report provides a summary of the inmate's institutional adjustment, including
release preparation. These documents hopefully facilitate the work of federal
probation officers in preparing for supervision of releasing inmates.