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Preparation Prison Life After

04. Unit Team


The Team Unit is involved in enforcing prison rules and taking disciplinary measures with inmates who violate them.  The Unit Discipline Committee (UDC) is picked by the Warden from members of the Team Unit and is responsible for sanctions for inmate violations.  The UDC uses the Inmate Discipline Program as its guiding policy.

While you may think that obeying all the rules in prison is easy, there so many violations, mostly minor, that inmates see that they come to believe they are acceptable.  That is when there is trouble and there are many ways for inmates to get into trouble.  Some things that most think would be a minor violation can be a big deal in prison.

The first step in the process is to file an incident report.  This is a report filed by the staff member who witnessed an offense or was told of an offense by an inmate.  Ordinarily, the UDC will review the incident report within five work days after it is issued.  The inmate will appear before the UDC during its review of the incident report.

Actions that may be taken by the BOP as a result of a violation depend on the nature of the violation and can range from loss of privileges (visiting, telephone, commissary, recreation, etc.) to forfeiture of Good Time.

There are four categories of prohibited acts:

Using a contraband cell phone to send a text message or call home may not seem like a big deal, but it could cost you dearly.  A 100-Level (Greatest) violation could result in loss of up to 75% of remaining Good Time, time in the SHU and most likely a transfer to another prison.  There are specific sanctions in the Inmate Discipline Program that are authorized for each category of offense.  Imposition of a sanction requires that the inmate first be found to have committed a prohibited act, aided another person in committing an offense for making plans to commit any of these offenses.

Most violations that inmates see in Camps and Lows are in the 300-Level to 400-Level range.  These violations, referred to as “Shots,” mostly result in some time in the SHU and/or loss of privileges (Phone, Email, Visitation) for a period of time.

Time in the SHU is not pleasant.  Inmates are locked in a cell, usually at an adjacent higher security prison but segregated from higher security inmates.  In cases where the Camp is stand-alone, the BOP contracts with local county jails to house inmates as an alternative to SHU.  Inmates of like-security levels are placed in a cell and allowed out only for limited exercise and to bathe.  Access to phones and email are suspended.  It is difficult and stays of a week or two weeks are common.

The BOP also routinely tests inmate through its policies Alcohol Surveillance and Testing Program and the Urine Surveillance and Narcotic Identification.  Drug and alcohol tests are also randomly given to inmates.  Inmates will be called over the loud speaker to report to a station where a corrections officer will administer a breathalizer and, or a urine test for drugs.  Urine tests are done in the presence of an officer and inmates are usually not given an opportunity to drink any liquids in order to encourage a urine stream.  It is not unusual that newer inmates have difficulty giving a specimen so you should not worry, but you may have to wait it out for a while until you have to go.

The Warden establishes programs of urine testing for drug use, to monitor specific groups or individual inmates who are considered as high risk for drug use, such as those involved in community activities, those with a history of drug use, and those inmates specifically suspected of drug use.

Testing is performed as frequently as the Warden determines on at least 50% of inmates who are involved in community activities (outside of the prison compound).  In addition, staff randomly samples inmates during each month to test for drug use.  Pursuant to BOP policy, 5% of each institution's total inmate population must be tested randomly monthly, however, exactly 3% are to be tested randomly in all Minimum Security Level institutions.

If you fail the test, you will be put into the SHU immediately and the UDC will be notified.  If you refuse to take the test you will be put into the SHU immediately.

The most severe punishment obviously involves having Good Time taking away, thereby adding more time on to the sentence.  The good news is that removing Good Time is rare and most eligible inmates receive all of their potential Good Time credit for compliance with institutional disciplinary regulations.  From fiscal years 2009 through 2011, BOP data show that about 87% of inmates had earned all of their available Good Time credit by the end of each year, and an additional 3% of inmates earned at least 90 percent of the maximum available Good Time. (Source: GAO-12-320 BOP Use of Sentencing Flexibilities, page 22).