Prison Inmates:

Better Plans Needed Before Felons Are Released

GGD-93-92: Published: Apr 20, 1993. Publicly Released: May 20, 1993.

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Norman J. Rabkin
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Bureau of Prisons' (BOP) prerelease planning, focusing on whether: (1) BOP provided inmate release plans to the Probation and Pretrial Services Division of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC) as required; and (2) the plans contained sufficient information for probation officers to properly supervise released inmates.

GAO found that: (1) BOP sent release plans to AOUSC within the required 60 to 90 days prior to inmate release for less than one-half of the inmates sampled and sent no release plans for 20 inmates; (2) in some cases, AOUSC was unaware of the inmates' release; (3) BOP sent almost one-half of the release plans less than 60 days before the inmates' release, which made timely approval of the plans difficult; (4) release plans often failed to include sufficient information on employment prospects, substance abuse treatment needs, medical needs, and psychiatric problems; (5) BOP internal controls were inadequate to ensure that release plans were timely and complete; (6) BOP prepared inmates for release by providing prerelease seminars and preparing regular inmate progress reports, which contained much of the information needed by probation officers; and (7) despite BOP policy that progress reports be forwarded to appropriate probation officers, BOP sent progress reports in only about one-half of the cases studied.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On June 9, 1995, BOP and AOUSC signed a new memorandum of understanding that requires BOP to provide release planning materials, including the inmate's final progress report, to the AOUSC district of supervision at least 90 days before an inmate's scheduled release directly into the community. (Inmates released to community corrections centers are still considered to be in BOP custody).

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should require the Director, BOP, to work with the Director, AOUSC, to modify the memorandum of understanding to require that a copy of the inmate's current progress report be routinely sent to Probation and Pretrial Services 60 to 90 days before the inmate's release.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Chapter 8 section 2 of BOP program statement 5800.07, dated August 5, 1994, directs the inmate systems manager (ISM) to provide a list, certified to be correct, of inmates scheduled for release 90 days prior to the month of release. A copy of this list is to be forwarded to the unit team at each BOP institution for release planning purposes. The joint memorandum of understanding between BOP and AOUSC requires BOP to forward release planning materials to the district of supervision at least 90 days before a scheduled release directly to the community. The program statement is be reviewed annually and was reissued on February 27, 1995.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should require the Director, BOP, to provide to a responsible BOP official at each prison a regular listing of those inmates to be released so that the prison official can verify that release plan information has been sent to the Probation and Pretrial Services Division 60 to 90 days prior to an inmate's release.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: BOP Program Statement 5303.05 revised on May 27, 1995, requires that final release reports be sent to U.S. Probation offices by certified mail. Facsimiles may also be used in particular locales and under certain circumstances when cost-effective.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Director, BOP, to develop a system to verify that the progress reports have been sent to and received by Probation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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