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Things have been busy. While that’s a good thing, it does not lend itself to blogging. So, even though there have been and are numerous, interesting Bureau of Prisons-related issues about which to write (for example, the impact of the sequester), they must remain on the priorities back burner. For now, I wanted to quickly give attention to the Sex Offenders Programsprogram statement (PS 5324.10) issued on February 15. The stated purpose and scope of the new policy, which does not appear to derive from any corresponding Code of Federal Regulation provisions, is:


To establish procedures and guidelines for Sex Offender Treatment and Management Services in the Bureau of Prisons (Bureau). This Program Statement is a plain-language, comprehensive set of operational guidelines for sex offender programs operated by psychologists, treatment specialists, and other Bureau staff.

 

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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: