Office of Inspector General Releases Findings of Investigation of "Untimely Releases" Of People in Federal Prisons
Date:  05-26-2016

Staff error and "situations beyond the BOP’s control" account for 4,340 untimely releases over five year period
From the Executive Summary of the Office of the Inspector General’s report

Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Untimely Releases of Prisoners

Following news reports that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) had confined an inmate for 13 months past his correct release date, the Department of Justice (Department) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) initiated an examination of the BOP’s process for ensuring federal inmates are released on their correct release dates and the incidences of releases before or after the correct release date due to staff error between 2009 and 2014. We found that of the 461,966 inmate releases between 2009 and 2014, the BOP categorized 157 as untimely due to staff error. We also learned that the BOP classifies a far greater number — 4,183 — as untimely for other reasons.

According to the BOP, the vast majority of non-staff error “untimely” releases were due to situations that are beyond its control, such as amended sentences that result in shorter sentences than the time an inmate had already served. Also, data and information we reviewed indicates that other entities inside and outside the Department may sometimes contribute to untimely releases. Although BOP officials told us that it was highly unlikely that staff error on the part of a Department entity contributed to any of the 4,183 cases, they could not rule out the possibility and we found that the BOP does not always have complete information about the circumstances of untimely releases to which other entities contribute. We therefore concluded that the Department should work with all relevant entities, both within and outside the Department, to review the full range of possible reasons for untimely releases and how to address those that are in any way preventable.

With regard to the 157 untimely releases that BOP categorized as due to staff error, 152 were late releases and 5 were early releases. We found that three of the late releases and three of the early releases involved an error resulting in more than 1 year of over- or under-served time by the inmate.

Read the report here.