The Federal Bureau of Prisons employs a wide variety of methods to create and maintain personal files on an inmate population of approximately 187,000 individuals. Some of the data contained in each file is static and is gathered from sources such as an inmate’s Pre-Sentence Investigative Report (PSR), Judgment and Commitment (J&C) order, and other sentencing documentation. Other data are variable, requiring periodic updates throughout the inmate’s term of incarceration.

One way the Federal Bureau of Prisons tracks, manages, and records certain aspects of an inmate’s incarceration is through mandatory, periodic individual inmate reviews. Referred to as “Program Reviews” (or “Unit Team Reviews”), they are usually conducted by one or more members of an inmate’s Unit Team, the key members of which are the correctional counselor, case manager, and unit manager of an inmate’s assigned housing unit. Program Reviews occur biannually for inmates with more than 12 months remaining on their sentences and quarterly for those with 12 months or less remaining on their sentences.

Initial Program Review

An inmate’s initial Program Review serves to establish a plan from which subsequent Program Reviews will be based. Inmates are asked a number of questions regarding their criminal history, crime of conviction, mental health history, history of drug use, etc. The answers to these questions are generally contained in their PSR and other official paperwork, and thus known to the Unit Team members conducting the interview.

This initial interview is conducted in part to acquaint the Unit Team with the inmate and to discover any potential discrepancies, omissions, and other inconsistencies in the inmate’s file as it was received by the prison’s administration. Examples of such issues include an improper record of the inmate’s education or an incomplete listing of completed treatment programs — items which could be corrected with the procurement of verifying documentation. The initial Program Review also provides the inmate the opportunity to familiarize themselves with their Unit Team and housing unit regulations, and it allows the Unit Team to address any concerns the new inmate may have.

The Individualized Reentry Plan-Program Review Document

A number of topics may be discussed at a Program Review, whether initial or periodic. A primary goal is to develop an inmate-specific, categorized document called an “Individualized Reentry Plan-Program Review,” which the inmate receives after each scheduled Program Review. Adhering to a standardized format, the Individualized re-entry Plan-Program Review document begins with the following basic information:

-Date of Program Review;

-Facility (i.e., the prison at which the inmate is currently housed);

-Inmate name, registration number, age and date of birth;

-Projected release date (i.e., the earliest date the inmate may be released from custody, with consideration given for all good time credit they are eligible to receive at the time of the Program Review);

-Projected release method (i.e., deportation, general release, etc.); and

-DNA status (i.e., the facility at which a DNA sample was collected and date of collection).

Program Review Topics

The Individualized Reentry Plan-Program Review document also includes the following fields:

-Detainers: Lists any detainers, the agency lodging the detainer, and the details of any detainers that exist.

-Pending Charges: Present only if applicable, this section lists the detaining agency and/or pending charges and case number(s) of the pending charges.

-Current Work Assignment: Lists the facility at which the inmate is currently housed, the inmate’s work assignment, a description of the work assignment, and the date the inmate was assigned to the job.

-Current Education Information: Lists the facility at which the inmate is currently housed, required education assignments (e.g., ESL, GED, etc.), requirement status, a description concerning the details of that status, and the date the education assignment was initiated or verified as not being required.

-Education Courses: Lists the facility at which an education course was taken, a description of the course, the date the course began, and the date of course completion.

-Disciplinary History (Last 6 Months): Lists the disciplinary hearing date and the prohibited acts which resulted in the disciplinary infraction, or “No Incident Reports Found In Last 6 Months” if the inmate has had clear conduct in the past six months.

-Current Care Assignments: Lists the inmate’s currently assigned medical and mental health care level, a description of the assigned care level, and the date the care level was assigned to the inmate.

-Current Medical Duty Status: Lists the inmate’s currently assigned medically-related work detail status (e.g., restrictions, regular duty, cleared for food service, temporary idle, medical holds, etc.), a description of the medical duty assignment, and the date it was initiated.

-Current Drug Assignment: Lists currently assigned drug abuse programs and drug education classes (e.g., Non-Residential Drug Abuse Program, Residential Drug Abuse Program, Drug Education Class, etc.), the inmate’s status concerning the programs or classes (e.g., in progress, completed, etc.), a description of the drug assignment and status, and the date the drug assignment status was verified.

-IFRP Details: Describes the details of the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP), which concerns the monthly or quarterly amount the inmate is expected to pay toward any fines, restitution, or other court ordered fees. The IFRP Details section includes IFRP Assignment (complete or incomplete and date status was determined); Inmate Decision (lists whether the inmate agreed to an IFRP contract or is in non-compliance with the payment plan the Unit Team established for them, the amount they are expected to pay, and the frequency of those payments); Payments in Past 6 Months (amount and obligation balance); Financial Obligations (lists the type of obligation owed, such as fine, assessment, etc., amount owed to each, balance, when payable and status); and Payment Details (lists Trust Fund deposits, whether payments are commensurate or not, and New Payment Plan data, if applicable).

Status Updates, Goals and Reentry Information

The Individualized Reentry Plan-Program Review document concludes with the following categories:

-Progress Since Last Review: Lists details of the inmate’s status concerning elements such as program participation, employment and work evaluations, family and community ties, and other information since the last review period.

-Next Program Review Goals: Lists courses, classes, and programs the inmate has been recommended to enroll in before their next Program Review, expected work performance goals, pre-release savings recommendations and other short-term objectives established by the Unit Team.

-Long-Term Goals: Lists recommended enrollment in Release Preparation Program (RPP) classes, along with specific release procedure information and U.S. Probation Office supervision requirements two years before projected release date, as well as other recommended RPP-related objectives, such as Vocational Training programs, mock job fairs and other such programs. Lists recommended treatment and/or therapy programs to be completed before release. Also establishes dates for obtaining release documentation such as a birth certificate, Social Security card and other identification documents.

-RRC/HC Placement: Lists details related to halfway house and home confinement placement, if applicable.

-Comments: Lists Unit Team comments concerning the inmate’s financial obligations to the court, safety concerns for the inmate, and other comments.

Inmate Copy

After each scheduled Program Review, a current/revised Individualized Reentry Plan/Program Review document is added to the inmate’s central file and the inmate receives a copy of the updated document for their own records.

About Christopher Zoukis
Christopher Zoukis is an outspoken prisoner rights and correctional education advocate who is incarcerated at FCI Petersburg Medium in Virginia. He is an award-winning writer whose work has been published widely in major publications such as The Huffington Post, Prison Legal News, New York Daily News and various other print and online publications. Learn more about Christopher Zoukis at and

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).