Between 2009 and 2014, the federal Bureau of Prisons accidentally kept 152 prisoners behind bars past their scheduled release dates due to staff errors, including three inmates who served an additional year or more of prison time, according to a new report by the Justice Department watchdog.
The investigation was spurred by a 2014 lawsuit from an inmate who spent 13 extra months behind bars. He eventually settled for $175,000 and the report estimates the late releases have cost the government more than $1 million in litigation and settlement costs. From Reuters:
One inmate in the audit report published Tuesday spent more than a year of extra time in prison because federal prison officials had not checked his online court records and therefore missed a judge’s order substantially shortening his sentence.
While the 152 prisoners released late due to staff error were a tiny portion of the 462,000 federal inmates released between 2009 and 2014, [Inspector General is Michael] Horowitz also identified more than 4,000 federal prisoners whose releases the Bureau of Prisons classifies as “untimely,” but not due to staff error.
“Neither the Department nor the BOP has attempted to work with the other agencies to examine these cases, and they don’t appear to fully understand all of the actions that can contribute to untimely releases,” Horowitz said in a video accompanying the report.
During that same period, five federal prisoners were released early due to staff errors, but the report notes “none of the inmates was rearrested, charged with, or convicted of any crimes during the time he or she was in the community before the correct release date.”