The Bureau of Prisons has reportedlyplaced Allen Stanford at the United States Penitentiary Coleman II, FL to serve his 110-year sentence. If accurate*, this story is notable because it means that the BOP has elected to house a 62-year-old nonviolent “white-collar” offender at a high-security institution. According to the BOP:
At the high security level, more than 70 percent of the inmates are drug offenders, weapons offenders, or robbers, another 10 percent have been convicted of murder, aggravated assault, or kidnapping, and half of the inmates in this population have sentences in excess of 10 years. Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of high security inmates have been sanctioned for violating prison rules, and more than 90 percent have a history of violence.
USP designation of an inmate with more than 30 years remaining to serve is technically correct based on application of the Sentence Length Public Safety Factor (PSF). See BOP Program Statement 5100.08, Ch. 5, p. 9. However, it appears that in other similar cases the Bureau offset the impact of the Sentence Length PSF through application of a Lesser Security management variable, which is intended for “circumstances where an inmate represents a lesser security risk […] than the assigned security level.” Id. Ch. 5, p. 5. For instance, Bernie Madoff, who, like Stanford, qualifies for USP placement as a result of his 150-year sentence, is housed at FCI Butner-Medium, NC. Likewise, Enron defendant Jeff Skilling was originally designated to FCI Waseca-Low, MN (then a men’s institution) despite having more than 20 years remaining to serve when he surrendered to federal custody, a fact that should have triggered placement at a medium-security institution.
Sound correctional management supports placing such nonviolent offenders at institutions of a security level lower than that for which they might technically qualify because it lessens the potential risk of harm, which, among other things, is an important liability consideration for the BOP. And, to be clear, placement at a medium-security institution is no walk in the park. Again using Madoff’s designation to Butner as an example, the BOP provides:
It is important to note that at the medium security level, about 67 percent of the inmates are drug offenders or weapons offenders, approximately 75 percent have a history of violence, 40 percent have been sanctioned for violating prison rules, and half of the inmates in this population have sentences in excess of 8 years.
That is what makes the news of Stanford’s designation to a USP unusual, particularly where he was assaulted in jail while awaiting trial. Perhaps the media has it wrong. There is a medium-security institution at the Coleman Correctional Complex.
*The BOP’s Inmate Locator does not list Stanford as in custody.