DOJ components redundantly inspected dozens of the same jails and prisons

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Because they didn't coordinate, two Justice Department components separately inspected dozens of the same jails and prisons in recent years--and often returned with conflicting findings, the DOJ office of inspector general says.

The department uses state, local and private facilities to help house federal detainees, an estimated 65,000 per day in fiscal 2013. Within DOJ, the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee and the U.S. Marshals Service both inspect those facilities to make sure they're secure and humane.

But they have often duplicated their efforts, the OIG says in a report (.pdf) released Jan. 10. The Office of the Federal Detention Trustee conducted 142 inspections between fiscals 2006 and 2010, and auditors found 70 instances where the Marshals Service reviewed the same facility in the same fiscal year.

In total, the OFDT spent more than $3 million inspecting facilities that the Marshals Service also reviewed. Local governments that ran inspected facilities were also unhappy with the redundant reviews because they disrupted their operations, the report says.

The two components tended to report inconsistent findings. In 32 of the 70 duplicate inspections, the OFDT found deficiencies while the Marshals Service said the facility was in compliance. Only in four cases did the Marshals Service find problems while the OFDT didn't.

Though facilities might have addressed some problems in between reviews, different outcomes were likely often the result of different inspection methods. The OFDT tasked a team of contracted subject-matter experts each with at least 10 years of correctional experience to spend three days on site for each of its inspections. Meanwhile, for each inspection the Marshals Service relied on a single entry-level deputy U.S. Marshal whose review typically would last about two hours.

DOJ merged the OFDT into the Marshals Service in October 2012. Department officials estimated the transition would save $5.6 million, the report says.

For more:
- download DOJ OIG audit report, 13-06 (.pdf)

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