The Bureau of Prisons Can Take Certain Actions To Make Sure Its Correctional Training Is Both Relevant and Cost Effective

GGD-82-75: Published: Sep 30, 1982. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1982.

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GAO reviewed certain aspects of the Bureau of Prisons' training practices.

The Bureau's policy is to provide firearms training in the use of three types of weapons to virtually all of its employees. The Bureau also requires that all of its correctional officers be trained on carbine weapons, even though several of its institutions do not use them. These practices are resulting in certain individuals' receiving unnecessary training. GAO believes that consideration should be given to exempting more Bureau employees from firearms training. By changing these practices, the Bureau could make funds available for improving firearms training for employees who have the greatest potential for using weapons. Most of the Bureau employees interviewed by GAO regarding self-defense training were skeptical of their ability to use the techniques being taught. There were indications that the self-defense training may not develop proficiency. The Bureau needs to assess the results of this program so that it can determine whether changes in its content are necessary. The Bureau delivers its correctional training to new employees at a training center. GAO recognizes advantages to this approach but, because increasing transportation costs and budget restrictions might make centralized training too expensive, other approaches to providing training need to be explored.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: There is a philosophical difference between the Bureau's method of providing training and the approach cited in the report. To agree with GAO, it would have to concur that its current method does not enable it to adequately train employees within existing resource constraints. Justice is not receptive to the recommendation. Consideration is being given to discussing this with cognizant committees.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should require the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to provide: (1) firearms training only to those administrative/support staff who have the greatest potential for using weapons; and (2) carbine training only to those correctional staff who need it. In addition, the Director should consult with firearms experts to determine what improvements to the firearms training program are needed to enable Bureau staff to use firearms more safely and effectively.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should require the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to determine whether employees are successfully using aikido when they are faced with dangerous situations. If employees have little confidence in aikido, the Bureau should either modify its existing program or develop some other self-defense technique.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Bureau thinks that centralized training is valuable and does not intend to consider alternatives. GAO is considering discussing this matter with the cognizant appropriations and oversight subcommittees to obtain evidence of any interest they might have in this area.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should require the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to explore alternative ways of delivering introductory correctional training so that if the cost of the current approach becomes prohibitive, a well-thought-out alternative can be adopted. One suggestion which should be given priority consideration is the elimination of centralized training for administrative/support staff.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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