Arrests of federal prison guards soared nearly 90 percent over the last decade, possibly because of poor hiring practices during a 25 percent increase in prison growth, says a Justice Department inspector general report quoted by the Los Angeles Times. Misconduct investigations doubled, and more than half of the offenses were committed during the officers’ first two years on the job. The inspector general recommended that the Federal Bureau of Prisons improve its background investigation of job applicants and find better ways to assess rookie officers.
Other factors have contributed to the problem, including private prisons and increasing numbers of female prisoners and young offenders in federal facilities. The report did not specify how many misconduct cases came out of private federal prisons, which have increased their populations by 120 percent in the last decade, says the Justice Policy Institute. “Private prisons aren’t always held to the same standards as public ones,” said Joe Baumann, a California state corrections officer. “That’s where so much of the stuff I come across is from, the private contractors.” Within public and private systems, some guards think their actions have no consequences because the process for punishing them is so convoluted, said Barry Krisberg, a law professor at the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice.