Articles Posted in Judicial Recommendations

Following conviction, federal defendants, who were released on bond while their cases were pending, are often permitted to surrender voluntarily to their designated places of imprisonment. This practice has several tangible benefits. From the Bureau of Prisons’ perspective, it provides a cost savings since the agency does not have to transport a newly sentenced prisoner from a local jail to the correctional facility at which he will be housed. For the defendant, the practice affords further opportunity to get one’s affairs in order while also lessening one’s security point total since the BOP subtracts three points for self-surrender. The latter can often be the difference between qualifying for minimum-, as opposed to low-, security placement.

Occasionally, a defendant may need to seek an extension of the surrender date. The BOP cannot modify the date. That authority rests exclusively with the court. Among the reasons that an extension may be sought are to allow time for the BOP to complete a defendant’s designation (and assign a facility to which to report) — less of an issue in recent years; to permit a potential re-designation, where BOP has assigned a defendant inconsistent with a judicial recommendation; or to enable religious observance, where the surrender date falls on or just before a religious holiday. Another reason to postpone surrender is where a defendant’s medical circumstances necessitate immediate treatment or aftercare under the supervision of his primary care physician(s). A story out of Alabamahighlights this circumstance:

A federal prosecutor said Tuesday the government opposes Country Crossing casino developer Ronnie Gilley’s request to delay his trip to prison until after Christmas.

According to The Stamford Advocate, a former Greenwich (CT) pastor reported this week to the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn (NY) to serve his five-month sentence:

Located near the Gowanus Bay, the prison is classified as an administrative facility, a type of institution intended for the detention of pretrial offenders, dangerous or escape-prone inmates, or for treatment of inmates with medical problems, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The Brooklyn facility is capable of holding male and female inmates in all security categories.

Seasoned federal practitioners may recall a time, not so long ago, when the designation of federal offenders was largely a local affair. Community Corrections Offices would process designation packages of newly sentenced defendants and forward placement recommendations to the Regional Designator for final approval. That design ended around early 2006 with the activation of the Designation and Sentence Computation Center (DSCC) in Grand Prairie, Texas, which centralized and consolidated the designation process. Designation teams divided by referring district court(s) have assumed the Community Corrections Office role, and a team of designators (Hotel Team) serves the Regional Designator function.

While the DSCC has certain efficiencies that, among other things, have resulted in a substantial reduction in the average time to complete an initial designation, there appears to be a growing trend of the BOP placing prisoners far from home, well beyond the 500-mile radius from release residence that has historically guided placement. Said differently, with increasing frequency there are reports of prisoners being designated dispersedly throughout the country. There is no official explanation for this trend. However, several considerations seem relevant.

Overcrowding is no doubt a factor. According to the Bureau’s FY 2013 Congressional Budget—Buildings and Facilities:

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