OIG Report Criticizes BOP’s “Failure” to Implement First Step Act

The Federal Docket

November 17, 2021

This month, the Office of the Inspector General released a report regarding the impact of the Bureau of Prisons’ failure to implement substantial provisions of the First Step Act. The First Step Act of 2018 sought to reduce the population of federal inmates by expanding programs that could give inmates credit for early release and allowing some inmates to petition courts or the BOP for early release.

As reported by Walter Pavlo, a consultant who frequently writes about the BOP, the BOP’s failure to implement some of these programs comes from a stand-off between BOP management and its union staff. As a result, there have been no “formal policy negotiations” for 20 months, leaving over 30 proposed policies stuck in neutral.

Aside from the PATTERN system, designed to assign inmates risk levels but criticized for built-in racial bias, the BOP has failed to assign inmates to “evidence-based recidivism reduction programs” that can give them credit towards an earlier release or “pre-release custody,” such as going to a community center or home confinement. These programs include educational or therapeutic classes aimed at helping inmates build skills and address the underlying issues that led to their incarceration. The BOP has a deadline of implementing these programs by January 15, 2022.

The OIG report found that 60,000 inmates have been deprived of earned time credits that they earned, depriving them of an early release from prison.

The OIG was very critical of the BOP’s failure. The report came around the same time that the Associated Press published a bombshell article detailing the fraud, abuse, and crimes taking place among BOP staff since 2019. Already, there have been calls for Director Carvajal to be replaced.

Click here to read the OIG report.

Click here to read Walter Pavlo’s article in Forbes regarding the OIG report.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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