Prisonology interviews Jack Donson, Bureau Of Prisons Case Manager - Retired, on his career at the BOP and insights into the organization.
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is responsible for the care and programming of inmates in the federal justice system. Established in 1930, it currently has 121 facilities located across the United States with security levels ranging from the minimum security camps to high security penitentiaries.
The BOP is a quasi-military institution that puts emphasis on chain of command and protocol. Take any issues you have to the proper person in the the chain of command, starting at the bottom.
Many camps are satellite camps outside of a secure facility. This means that staff has experienced situations that have required serious security measures at the higher level facilities. Be aware that this experience translates over to the camp environment.
There is a formal complaint process in the BOP known as the Administrative Remedy Process. This allows an inmate to seek formal review of an issue related to their confinement. The action is filled out on Form BP-9, 10 and 11s. This should ONLY be exercised for serious issues. It is a predecessor to going through legal remedies.
There are 121 federal facility compounds across the country.
There are over 220,000 inmates
Most inmates in the federal system are serving sentences of 5 years or less
Nearly 60% of all federal inmates are in low or minimum security (camp) facilities.
The Bureau of Prisons is run on policies and procedures, so remember that things that should take only a short time may take longer.
There are many rumors created daily about prison and prison policy in the United States. Shorter sentences, amnesty and pardons fill the halls of prisons across the country. Just realize that the facts are here.
Despite all of the policies and procedures, the Warden is the ultimate decision maker in the prison.
Jack Donson (Bureau Of Prisons Case Manager - Retired) Bureau of Prisons
"I started with the BOP because I truly believed that I could help people turn a negative situation into something positive. I embraced that the purpose of prison was to rehabilitate, not to punish, a person. So I put every effort I could into helping people.
The BOP is run by rules and policies, some of which I helped write because of my involvement with National Work Groups. In accordance with policy, there are a number of programs and ways to help inmates. Unfortunately, some of these are either overlooked by staff who are indifferent or they just do not understand the policy applications. Since the rules are publicly available, and in the Prisonology Resources, every inmate has access to them and should know their rights. In prison, an inmate is his/her best advocate.
You will find the BOP is well run, but maybe not efficiently run. You will find people who care and you will find staff who are just doing their time in prison like inmates. In the best run prisons there are programs, administrators and inmates who are all working together to make the most of the experience. If I could give anyone who is going to prison some advice I would tell them to be engaged and make a positive contribution to the institution. If you do that, everyone will benefit. It is easy to get caught up with the inmates' attitude of "Us versus Them," so avoid getting into that negative frame of mind. Developing a good relationship within certain boundaries will have a profoundly positive affect on your prison time and make it go by much faster."