IG Says Prisons Lax on Drug Smuggling; Demands Further Monitoring of Staff

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 23, 2003 | Go to article overview

IG Says Prisons Lax on Drug Smuggling; Demands Further Monitoring of Staff


Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Drugs smuggled into federal correctional institutions each year by visitors, prison staff and through the mail have created serious health and management problems, according to a report released yesterday.

A 123-page report by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General said officials at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons failed to adequately search visitors, lacked cameras, monitors and staff to properly supervise inmate-visiting sessions, and had taken "insufficient measures" to prevent drug smuggling by staff personnel.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said interdiction activities common in state prison facilities - such as random drug searches and tests of staff - were not used by federal prison officials. He also said an insufficient number of federal inmates received treatment to reduce their demand for drugs.

"The vast majority of BOP employees have high integrity, but a few corrupt staff can do enormous damage to the safety and security of an institution," Mr. Fine said. "When staff smuggle drugs, the amounts are often large and they reach more inmates.

"We believe the BOP needs to focus additional drug-interdiction efforts on its staff in order to reduce drugs in federal prisons."

BOP spokesman Dan Dunne said prison officials "recognize the harm drugs can do" and the agency will "closely review" recommendations in the report to determine how they can be used to ensure the safety of both inmates and staff, and prevent the introduction of drugs into the federal prison system.

Mr. Dunne noted, however, that testing this year of 80,000 federal inmates showed a positive return for drug usage of 0.9 percent, compared with a 3.2 average among 43 other correctional systems.

"Some of the recommendations will be very costly to implement, but we will do the best we can with the resources available," he said.

The IG's report noted that between 1997 and 2001, inmates testing positive for drugs averaged 1.94 percent, but said statistics varied widely among federal facilities. It said the high-security federal penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas, posted a positive inmate drug test rate of 7.

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IG Says Prisons Lax on Drug Smuggling; Demands Further Monitoring of Staff
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