Intro to the Bureau of Prisons

The Bureau of Prisons

Most people who become a target of the Department of Justice, and are indicted, will be sentenced and given prison sentences. A vast majority of these people will, in fact, serve time. When faced with prison time, the only asset a defendant has in his or her possession is knowledge. Knowledge is the only the one can really take into prison.

So what is the Bureau of Prisons?

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is responsible for all federal defendants who are convicted and sentenced to any prison term. It is a gigantic, intimidating monolith to the untrained eye and is often regarded as a lawless agency that does whatever it wishes. This is officially and mostly untrue.

Understanding how the Bureau of Prisons works is the first step in influencing it to your advantage. Below are a few key knowledge bits that will get you started in your path to figuring it out.

Regions: The BOP is divided into six separate regions. For sentences of less than 5 years, a newly classified inmate will normally be sent to (“designated” to) an institution within their region. The regions are: Western, North Central, South Central, North East, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast The You can see a regional breakdown of the Bureau of Prisons on its About Facilities page.

Security Levels There are four main security level designations for BOP institutions. These are commonly called Maximum, Medium, Low, and Minimum. To add a wrinkle to this simple list, the BOP calls its facilities which house these security levels by different names.

  • Maximum Security inmates are housed in United States Penitentiaries (USPs)
  • Medium Security inmates are housed in Federal Correctional Institutions (FCIs) or USPs
  • Low Security inmates are housed in FCIs
  • Minimum Security inmates are housed in Federal Prison Camps (FPC)

[Read the entire 110 page BOP policy manual on Inmate Security Designation and Custody Classification in Program Statement 5100.08]

These are not the only types of institutions the BOP operates. There are facilities with special purposes like medical complexes for inmates with intense medical care needs, and the ADX SuperMax in Florence, Colorado which houses the most dangerous federal inmates. You can read about all the different types of facilities operated by the BOP on their facilities breakdown page.

Privately owned facilities are contracted by the BOP to house about 10% of the total inmate population. There are plenty of reviews about these privately run prisons, and most are not favorable. The existence and use of these prisons isn’t widely publicized  there has been a renewed focus on the perils of the private prison industry recently because it promotes and profits on slavery.

Hierarchy

The BOP has a standard hierarchy that it uses to delegate command starting with the Attorney General of the United States, and under him is the Director of the Bureau of Prisons.

Under the BOP Director, the Deputy Director of the BOP oversees the Directors of the Regional Offices. In turn, the Regional Office directors oversee the Institutional Wardens.

Under the Warden, there are normally two Assistant Wardens per institution: one is for inmate programs, one is for facility operations.

Under those Assistant Wardens, each cell-block-unit has a Unit Manager, who oversees the Unit Counselor and Unit Case Manager.

The Counselor and Case Manager are the two employees, besides the correctional officers, that inmates have the most contact with. Case Managers oversee all matters concerning an inmate that occur outside the institution like halfway house placement and release procedures. The Case Manager handles all inmate-related matters inside the institution, like the inmate’s job and cell-assignments, among many other issues.

We Can Help

There are a HUGE number of consulting firms that offer services to help families and inmates affect different positive changes in an inmate’s situation. However, few have the ability to do what we can. PCR Consultants combine a knowledge of the BOP, with a knowledge of the rights and legal remedies available to those inmates.

There are no typical cases for us when helping inmates affect change. Just in 2020 alone, there was a TREMENDOUS demand for help affecting compassionate release requests. The legal requirements to bring these requests to sentencing judges, and doing so quickly, demanded:

  • Hiring local counsel;
  • Drafting briefs for clients under the supervision of that counsel;
  • Ensuring factual and accurate information about the BOP’s lackluster response to the COVID-19 crisis; and,
  • Coordinating medical records and Administrative Remedy exhaustion in compliance with appellate precedent for all 11 Circuit Courts of Appeal;

We reacted more quickly than anybody else and began this process immediately, getting clients released from the remainder of their sentences quickly and safely, to ensure they did not see their short prison sentences turn into death sentences.

If you need professional intervention to ensure the best outcomes for your inmate loved-ones, please get into contact with us using our contact form or by giving us a call during office hours, Monday through Saturday.

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