Changes to Special Management Unit (SMU) Policy

Department of Justice Restrictive Housing Report recommends changes

Changes to Special Management Unit (SMU) Policy

(BOP) - Recently, the Bureau of Prisons made significant changes to the Special Management Unit (SMU) Program, as a result of the recommendations in the January 2016 Department of Justice Restrictive Housing Report. Inmates are designated to SMUs to ensure the safety, security, or orderly operation of Bureau facilities, or protection of the public.

The Bureau published the revised SMU policy (Program Statement 5217.02) on August 9, 2016. The significant changes in the policy include: the program reducing the levels from four to three, and reducing the time frame for inmates' completion from an average of 24 months to 12 months. In addition, the revised SMU policy requires a greater review of an inmate's mental health records prior to placement in a SMU, as well as at each stage of the program to ensure that mental health needs do not preclude them from completion of the program. Upon successful completion of the SMU Program, inmates will be carefully reviewed for placement in general population or another appropriate facility.

The policy can be found here:

The Bureau is committed to ensuring the safety of staff, inmates and the public. The SMU program is one of the tools available to staff to ensure a safe and orderly environment at all institutions and to address unique security and management concerns.