District of Columbia

Corrections Information Council (CIC)

Budget

$736,360 (FY 2020)

Staffing

10 staff members

  • CIC staff is composed of an executive director, 6 program analysts, a communications specialist, an administrative assistant, and a clerical assistant. Staff roles are flexible, but some staff members generally focus on the local jail system and some on the CIC’s limited federal oversight.

DC Prison Profile

DC residents convicted of felonies are incarcerated in Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) facilities. FBOP incarcerates roughly 2,400 people convicted of DC felonies, typically holding these individuals in approximately 110 of its 122 facilities. CIC has oversight authority over FBOP facilities when they house DC residents convicted under DC law, but not those convicted of federal offenses. CIC also has oversight over DC ‘s local jail system. 

Authority

DC Code § 24–101.01. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FBOP. 

  • Structure: CIC is an independent agency. The Board is composed of 5 members, 3 of whom are appointed by the Mayor and 2 of whom are appointed by the Council. (§ 24–101.01.b.2)
  • Authorized Activities: The CIC is directed to conduct inspections of FBOP facilities where DC residents are incarcerated and to interview staff and people incarcerated in those facilities. CIC’s access and the protocols for inspections are determined by CIC’s MOU with FBOP. (§ 24–101.01.d and MOU)
  • Access to facilities: CIC has access to any FBOP facilities that house DC residents with 30 days’ notice but cannot access all facility areas – FBOP has excluded special housing units (solitary confinement) from CIC inspections since roughly 2020. CIC inspectors are escorted throughout facilities. (§ 24–101.01.d.2 & Memoranda of Understanding)
  • Access to information: During inspections of FBOP facilities, CIC can access inmate rosters, basic inmate data for the given facility (e.g., demographics; participation in programming; staff vacancies), and information specifically about DC inmates, including the number of deaths and suicide attempts. (§ 24–101.01.d.4)

Activities

CIC uses its inspections of FBOP facilities, information collected from FBOP, and correspondence from DC residents incarcerated in the federal system to monitor FBOP facility conditions.

  • Inspections: CIC inspects five or six FBOP facilities per year. CIC gives FBOP 30 days’ notice before inspections. During site visits, CIC staff inspect the facility on a guided tour, conduct confidential interviews with DC residents incarcerated at the facility, speak with the warden, and evaluate DC residents’ access to the facility’s programming and services.  
  • Information Collection: CIC receives correspondence from DC residents held in the federal system and tracks concerns raised in a database. CIC also receives a roster of DC residents held in FBOP facilities and collects information in its interviews during inspection visits.
  • Advocacy and Information Provision: In FBOP facilities, the CIC seeks to ensure that individuals convicted under DC law are not treated differently because of their status as non-federal prisoners.  The CIC also attempts to make sure that these individuals have access to any DC-specific information they might need, including legal information and referrals.

Reports

Annual Reports, publicly available here; Inspection Reports, publicly available here; Thematic Reports, publicly available here; Info Sheets, publicly available here

  • Annual Reports: provide information about correctional agencies that have custody of incarcerated DC residents and the activities, events, and operations of the CIC.
  • Inspection Reports: provide information and findings from individual inspections.
  • Thematic Reports: address broader or systemic issues, sometimes including guidance for incarcerated people or their families navigating the issue in question, e.g., compassionate release.
  • Info Sheets: provide concise information and guidance on specific issues.

Organizational History

The CIC was initially established under the Revitalization Act of 1997. Its mandate was further expanded and detailed in the District of Columbia Jail Improvement Act of 2003. The CIC had its first volunteer board in 2001, which continued through 2006. The CIC then went out of service in 2006 and was essentially dormant through 2009. It was reestablished in 2010 when the DC Council passed DC Law §18-233.3, which re-formed the Board and created an Executive Director position. In 2012, the CIC’s budget was expanded to allow it to hire a staff member beyond the Director. By 2019, the CIC had eight staff members. It was established as an independent agency in 2017.

Special Note

The District of Columbia criminal justice system is a hybrid local and federal system.  Individuals who are pretrial or convicted of a misdemeanor are held in the local jail system, but the District of Columbia does not have its own prison for individuals convicted of felonies; anyone convicted of a felony in DC falls under federal custody and serves time in federal facilities or facilities contracted by the federal government. Such facilities could be located anywhere in the United States.