The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is a branch of the United States government responsible for the custody of individuals who have violated federal law (or District of Columbia law). It is also responsible for carrying out all judicially ordered federal civilian executions. US federal prisons hold 183,000 inmates, as of 2018. They have been officially declared overcrowded, with clear implications for safety and security.
The BOP has five security levels:
Employees are trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia. The BOP is currently headed by Hugh Hurwitz.
|Federal Bureau of Prisons|
Seal of the Federal Bureau of Prisons
Flag of the Federal Bureau of Prisons
|Headquarters||Federal Home Loan Bank Board Building|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Motto||Correctional Excellence. Respect. Integrity.|
|Annual budget||7.3 billion USD (FY 2016)|
|Parent agency||Department of Justice|
The Federal Prison System existed for more than 30 years before the BOP was established. Although its wardens functioned almost autonomously, the Superintendent of Prisons, a Department of Justice official in Washington, was nominally in charge of federal prisons, starting with the passage of the "Three Prisons Act' in 1891, which authorized the federal government's first three penitentiaries: USP Leavenworth, USP Atlanta, and USP McNeil Island with limited supervision by the United States Department of Justice afterwards.
Until 1907, prison matters were handled by the Justice Department's General Agent. The General Agent was responsible for Justice Department accounts, oversight of internal operations, and certain criminal investigations, as well as prison operations. In 1907, the General Agent's office was abolished, and its functions were distributed among three new offices: the Division of Accounts (which evolved into the Justice Management Division); the Office of the Chief Examiner (which later evolved by 1908, into the Bureau of Investigation, and later by the early 1920s into the Federal Bureau of Investigation); and the Office of the Superintendent of Prisons and Prisoners, later called the Superintendent of Prisons (which then evolved by 1930 into the Bureau of Prisons).
Pursuant to Pub.L. 71–218, 46 Stat. 325, enacted May 14, 1930, the Bureau of Prisons was established by the U.S. Congress within the U.S. Department of Justice (which itself was created in 1870, to be headed by the Attorney General, whose office was first established in the first Presidential Cabinet under President Washington and created in 1789, along with the Secretaries of State, Treasury and War). The new Prison Bureau was now under the Administration of the 31st President Herbert Hoover, (1874–1964), and was charged with the "management and regulation of all Federal penal and correctional institutions." This responsibility covered the administration of the 11 federal prisons in operation at the time. By the end of the year 1930, the system had already expanded to 14 institutions with 13,000 inmates. By a decade later in 1940, the federal prison system had 24 institutions with 24,360 incarcerated.
As a result of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 and subsequent legislation which pushed for longer sentences, less judicial discretion, and more harsh sentences for drug-related offenses, the federal inmate population doubled in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. The population increase has decelerated since the early 2000s but the federal inmate population continues to grow.
National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997 transferred responsibility for adult felons convicted of violating District of Columbia laws to the BOP.
As of 2015, 63% of BOP employees are white, 22% are black, 12% are Hispanic, 2% are Asian and 1% identify as another race. 73% are male.
All BOP employees undergo 200 hours of formal training in their first year of employment. Employees must also complete additional 120 hours of training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia.
There is roughly one corrections officer for every 10 prisoners.
The BOP has five security levels. Federal Prison Camps (FPCs), the BOP minimum-security facilities, feature a lack of or a limited amount of perimeter fencing, and a relatively low staff-to-inmate ratio. Low-security Federal Correctional Institutions (FCIs) have double-fenced perimeters, and inmates live in mostly cubicle or dormitory housing. Medium-security FCIs and some United States Penitentiaries (USPs) are classified to hold medium-security inmates. The medium facilities have strengthened perimeters, which often consist of double fences with electronic detection systems. Medium-security facilities mostly have cell housing. Most U.S. Penitentiaries are classified as high-security facilities. The perimeters, highly secured, often have reinforced fences or walls. Federal Correctional Complexes (FCCs) are co-locations of BOP facilities with different security levels and/or genders. Some units have small, minimum-security camps, known as "satellite camps," adjacent to the main facilities. Twenty-eight BOP institutions hold female inmates.
As of 2010 about 15% of the inmates under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Prisons are in facilities operated by third parties. Most of them are in facilities operated by private companies. Others are in facilities operated by local and state governments. Some are in Residential Reentry Centers (RRC) (AKA: Community Corrections Centers) operated by private companies. The bureau uses contract facilities to manage its own prison population. The bureau stated that contract facilities are "especially useful" for housing low-security, specialized groups of people, such as sentenced criminal aliens.
As of 2018, 25% of federal inmates were white, 27% were Hispanic and 38% are black; 93% are male.
Also as of 2018, 75% of federal inmates were between the ages of 26 and 50.
As of October 2016, 46% of the inmates were incarcerated for committing drug crimes.
As of August 2013, of the male inmates, 15% were housed in the Northeast, 19% were housed in the Southeast, 16% were housed in the Mid-Atlantic region, 12% were housed in the North Central region, 24% were housed in the South Central region, and 13% were housed in the Western region. Of the female inmates, 9% were housed in the Northeast, 22% were housed in the Southeast, 17% were housed in the Mid-Atlantic region, 11% were housed in the North Central region, 23% were housed in the South Central region, and 18% were housed in the Western region.
As of August 2013, of the male inmates, 13% received sentences while being in the Northeast, 10% of men received them in the Southeast, 11% received them in the Mid-Atlantic region, 12% received them in the North Central region, 28% received them in the South Central region, and 26% were sentenced in the Western region. Of the female inmates, 13% received sentences while being in the Northeast, 13% of women received them in the Southeast, 13% received them in the Mid-Atlantic region, 14% received them in the North Central region, 26% received them in the South Central region, and 22% were sentenced in the Western region.
As of 1999 14,000 prisoners were in 16 federal prisons in the state of Texas.
As of 2010 felons sentenced under D.C. law made up almost 8,000 prisoners, or about 6% of the total BOP population, and they resided in 90 facilities.
The BOP receives all prisoner transfer treaty inmates sent from foreign countries, even if their crimes would have been, if committed in the United States, tried in state, DC, or territorial courts.
As of 2015, 27 BOP facilities house women. The BOP has a Mothers and Infants Nurturing Together (MINT) program for women who enter the BOP as inmates while pregnant. The BOP pays for abortion only if it is life-threatening for the woman, but it may allow for abortions in non-life-threatening cases if non-BOP funds are used.
With the 2014 repurposing of FCI Danbury for men, female inmates in the Northeast no longer had a prison in their region, and the imbalance of female inmates in regards to their locations in the BOP increased.
In 2017, four senators of the Democratic Party, including Kamala Harris, introduced a bill explicitly requiring tampons and pads to be free of cost for female prisoners. In August of that year, the BOP introduced a memorandum requiring free tampons and pads. The previous 1996 memorandum stated "products for female hygiene needs shall be available" without requiring them to be free of charge.
A 2018 review conducted by the Evaluation and Inspections Division, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice, found the Bureau's programming and policy decisions did not fully consider the needs of female inmates in the areas of trauma treatment programming, pregnancy programming, and feminine hygiene.
As of 2010 typically juveniles sent into BOP custody are between 17 and 20, must have been under 18 at the time of the offense and had been convicted of sex-related offenses. This is because the most severe crimes committed on Indian Reservations are usually taken to federal court. According to the BOP, most of the juveniles it receives had committed violent crimes and had "an unfavorable history of responding to interventions and preventive measures in the community." As of that year most federal juvenile inmates were from Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia (in no particular order).
The BOP contracts with facilities that house juvenile offenders. Title 18 U.S.C. 5039 specifies that "No juvenile committed, whether pursuant to an adjudication of delinquency or conviction for an offense, to the custody of the Attorney General may be placed or retained in an adult jail or correctional institution in which he has regular contact with adults incarcerated because they have been convicted of a crime or are awaiting trial on criminal charges." The definition includes secure facilities and community-based correctional facilities. Federally sentenced juveniles may be moved into federal adult facilities at certain points; juveniles sentenced as adults are moved into adult facilities when they turn 18. Juveniles sentenced as juveniles are moved into adult facilities when they turn 21.
The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 reinstituted the federal death penalty. On July 19, 1993, the federal government designated the United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute in Indiana as the site where male federal inmates sentenced to death would be held and where federal inmates of both genders would be executed. The Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Texas holds the female inmates who have been sentenced to death.
As of 2018, 57 inmates are slated for death row.
Parole was abolished for federal inmates in 1987 and inmates must serve at least 85% of their original sentence before being considered for good-behavior release. In addition, the extremely strict sentencing guidelines present today were adopted in response to rising crime rates in the 1980s and early 1990s, especially for drug-related offenses. US violent crime has dropped since then, but some analysts and activists believe that other factors played a much more significant part in falling crime rates. In addition, they hold that strict federal sentencing guidelines have led to overcrowding and needlessly incarcerated thousands of non-violent drug offenders who would be better served by drug treatment programs.
The yearly increases in the federal inmate population have raised concerns from criminal justice experts and even among DOJ officials themselves. Michael Horowitz, the DOJ Inspector General, wrote a memorandum concerning this issue:
First, despite a slight decrease in the total number of federal inmates in fiscal year (FY) 2014, the Department projects that the costs of the federal prison system will continue to increase in the years ahead, consuming a large share of the Department’s budget. Second, federal prisons remain significantly overcrowded and therefore face a number of important safety and security issues.
Federal Bureau of Prisons Program Statements are the policy documents of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP). They are promulgated by the FBOP director and FBOP staff are expected to adhere to them.
There are eight series of program statements dealing with various subjects. The Program Statements represent the internal policies of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and often quote the United States Code and Code of Federal Regulations and provide the FBOP's interpretations of these laws and regulations and procedures for implementing them.Federal Correctional Institution, Safford
The Federal Correctional Institution, Safford (FCI Safford) is a low-security United States federal prison for male inmates in Arizona. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.
FCI Safford is located in southeastern Arizona, 7 miles south of the city of Safford, 127 miles northeast of Tucson, and 165 miles east of Phoenix.Federal Correctional Institution, Waseca
The Federal Correctional Institution, Waseca (FCI Waseca) is a low-security United States federal prison for female offenders in Minnesota. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. The site, located 75 miles from Minneapolis, was converted into a prison in 1992 after formerly serving as a University of Minnesota campus.Federal Detention Center, Honolulu
The Federal Detention Center, Honolulu (FDC Honolulu) is a United States federal prison facility in Hawaii which holds male and female prisoners of all security levels prior to or during court proceedings in Hawaii Federal District Court, as well as inmates serving brief sentences. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.
FDC Honolulu is located adjacent to Honolulu International Airport, and is at the airport's western perimeter. The building has twelve stories.As of 2013 it houses 300 prisoners sentenced under Hawaiian law rather than federal law; the Hawaii state prison system did not have enough capacity for these prisoners.Federal Detention Center, Houston
The Federal Detention Center, Houston (FDC Houston) is a United States federal prison in Downtown Houston, Texas which holds male and female inmates prior to and during court proceedings, as well an inmates serving short sentences. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. It is in proximity to Minute Maid Park.The facility, opened in October 1999, has space for 1,118 prisoners and was built for $35 million. The 11 story facility serves people awaiting trial in the Southern District of Texas.Federal Detention Center, Miami
The Federal Detention Center, Miami (FDC Miami) is a prison operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It is located in downtown Miami, at the corner of Northeast Fourth Street and North Miami Avenue. The administrative facility employed 311 staff as of 2002 and housed 1,512 male and female inmates as of July 15, 2010.Federal Detention Center, Oakdale
The Federal Detention Center (FDC Oakdale) is a United States federal prison which houses male pretrial and holdover inmates in Louisiana. It is part of the Oakdale Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) and is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. The facility also has an adjacent satellite prison camp for minimum-security male inmates.
FDC Oakdale is located in central Louisiana, 35 miles south of Alexandria and 58 miles north of Lake Charles.Federal Detention Center, SeaTac
The Federal Detention Center, SeaTac (FDC SeaTac) is a prison operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It is located in SeaTac, Washington, near the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, 12 miles (19 km) south of downtown Seattle and 16 miles (26 km) north of Tacoma, 1 mile (2 km) west of the 200th Street exit at the Interstate 5. The facility is also adjacent to the Angle Lake light rail station.The administrative facility employed 200 staff as of 2002 and housed 608 male and female inmates as of March 23, 2015.Federal Medical Center, Butner
The Federal Medical Center, Butner (FMC Butner) is a United States federal prison in North Carolina for male inmates of all security levels who have special health needs. It is part of the Butner Federal Correctional Complex and is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. An adjacent satellite prison camp houses minimum-security male inmates.
FMC Butner is located near the Research Triangle area of Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill.Federal Medical Center, Carswell
The Federal Medical Center, Carswell (FMC Carswell) is a United States federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas for female inmates of all security levels with special medical and mental health needs. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. The facility also has a prison camp for minimum-security female inmates.
FMC Carswell is located in the northeast corner of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, formerly known as Carswell Air Force Base. It lies in the northwest part of the city of Fort Worth, near the southeast corner of Lake Worth.
As of 2015, the sole woman with a federal death sentence is incarcerated at FMC Carswell.Federal Medical Center, Lexington
The Federal Medical Center, Lexington (FMC Lexington) is a United States federal prison in Kentucky for male or female inmates requiring medical or mental health care. It is designated as an administrative facility, which means that it holds inmates of all security classifications. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. The facility also has an adjacent minimum-security satellite camp for female inmates.
FMC Lexington is located 7 miles (11 km) north of Lexington and 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Frankfort, the state capital.Federal Medical Center, Rochester
The Federal Medical Center, Rochester (FMC Rochester) is a United States federal prison in Minnesota for male inmates requiring specialized or long-term medical or mental health care. It is designated as an administrative facility, which means it holds inmates of all security classifications. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.
FMC Rochester is located in southeastern Minnesota, 2 miles (3.2 km) east of downtown Rochester.Federal Transfer Center, Oklahoma City
The Federal Transfer Center (FTC), Oklahoma City is a United States federal prison for male and female inmates in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice, and houses offenders and parole violators who have yet to be assigned to a permanent prison facility. Most inmates who enter the federal prison system come through the facility.
FTC Oklahoma City is located adjacent to the Will Rogers World Airport, and serves as the main hub of the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System, popularly known as Con Air. A cadre of low-security inmates are assigned to FTC Oklahoma City to perform food service and maintenance duties.Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black stated that circa 2005 the women's section was "spotlessly clean" and "subdued".List of United States federal prisons
The Federal Bureau of Prisons classifies prisons into several categories:
United States Penitentiaries
Federal correctional institutions
Private correctional institutions
Federal prison camps
Federal correctional complexesThis list does not include military prisons, state prisons, jails, or prisons operated under contract with local governments. It also does not include detention centers and facilities and processing centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).Metropolitan Correctional Center, San Diego
The Metropolitan Correctional Center, San Diego (MCC San Diego) is a United States federal administrative detention facility in California which holds male and female prisoners of all security levels. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.
Most prisoners held at MCC San Diego have pending cases in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. MCC San Diego also holds prisoners serving brief sentences. MCC San Diego is an administrative facility designed to house federal prisoners of all security levels, including both male and female offenders. The building is 23 stories and can house 1,300 inmates.Metropolitan Detention Center, Guaynabo
The Metropolitan Detention Center, Guaynabo (MDC Guaynabo) is a United States federal prison facility in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico which holds male and female inmates of all security levels who are awaiting trial or sentencing. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.
MDC Guaynabo is located next to Fort Buchanan, and is 6 miles (9.7 km) west of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico.In the wake of the destruction of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, some 1200 federal prisoners were transferred from Guaynabo to the Federal Correctional Institution, Yazoo City in Mississippi. Those 1200 were returned to Guaynabo in the first quarter of 2018, along with other prisoners who had been temporarily held in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.Metropolitan Detention Center, Los Angeles
The Metropolitan Detention Center, Los Angeles (MDC Los Angeles) is a United States federal prison in downtown Los Angeles, California which holds male and female inmates prior to and during court proceedings, as well an inmates serving short sentences. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.Metropolitan Detention Centers
Metropolitan Detention Centers (MDCs) are federal detention facilities (prisons) operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and located throughout the United States. These facilities are considered to be administrative facilities, defined by bop.gov as:
Administrative facilities are institutions with special missions, such as the detention of pretrial offenders; the treatment of inmates with serious or chronic medical problems; or the containment of extremely dangerous, violent, or escape-prone inmates. Administrative facilities include Metropolitan Correctional Centers (MCCs), Metropolitan Detention Centers (MDCs), Federal Detention Centers (FDCs), and Federal Medical Centers (FMCs), as well as the Federal Transfer Center (FTC), the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (MCFP), and the Administrative-Maximum (ADX) U.S. Penitentiary. Administrative facilities are capable of holding inmates in all security categories.1
They are run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Detention Centers, as opposed to Federal Penitentiaries, are designed to hold prisoners who have either not yet been arraigned, have been denied bail, or are awaiting trial. Metropolitan Detention Centers also hold inmates on their way to their designated 'home' prison.
Convicted prisoners are transferred to one of a series of Federal Prisons, also run by the Bureau of Prisons.
A report by the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General on the experience of 762 post-9/11 detainees found confirmed the physical and verbal abuse of detainees. On arrival at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, the detainees were slammed face first into a wall against a shirt with an American flag; the bloodstain left behind was described by one officer as the print of bloody noses and a mouth. Once inside they were threatened with detention for the rest of their lives, verbally abused, exposed to cold, deprived of sleep, and had their hands, cuffed arms, and fingers severely twisted.National Institute of Corrections
The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) is an agency of the United States government. It is part of the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons.NIC provides support programs to assist federal, state, and local corrections agencies. Additionally the NIC provides funds to support programs that are in line with its key initiatives.The NIC was created by the United States Congress in 1974 on the recommendation of the National Conference on Corrections convened by John N. Mitchell in 1971. Mitchell called for the conference as a result of public pressure following the riot at New York's Attica Correctional Facility in 1971.