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Title 28

Displaying title 28, up to date as of 9/16/2021. Title 28 was last amended 9/16/2021.

Title 28

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Subpart E - Contact With News Media

44 FR 38247, June 29, 1979, unless otherwise noted.

§ 540.60 Purpose and scope.

The Bureau of Prisons recognizes the desirability of establishing a policy that affords the public information about its operations via the news media. Representatives of the news media (see § 540.2) may visit institutions for the purpose of preparing reports about the institution, programs, and activities. It is not the intent of this rule to provide publicity for an inmate or special privileges for the news media, but rather to insure a better informed public. The Bureau of Prisons also has a responsibility to protect the privacy and other rights of inmates and members of the staff. Therefore, an interview in an institution must be regulated to insure the orderly and safe operation of the institution.

§ 540.61 Authorization.

(a) A news media representative who desires to make a visit or conduct an interview at an institution must make application in writing to the Warden, indicating that he or she is familiar with the rules and regulations of the institution and agrees to comply with them.

(b) As a condition of authorizing interviews and making facilities available to conduct an interview, the news media representative shall recognize a professional responsibility to make reasonable attempts to verify any allegations regarding an inmate, staff member or institution.

(c) A representative of the news media is requested to provide the Bureau of Prisons an opportunity to respond to any allegation, which might be published or broadcast prior to distribution.

(d) A representative of the news media shall collect information only from the primary source. A representative of the news media may not obtain and use personal information from one inmate about another inmate who refuses to be interviewed.

(e) The Warden may be contacted concerning discussions or comments regarding applicability of any rule or order.

(f) Failure to adhere to the standards of conduct set forth by this rule for the news media representative constitutes grounds for denying that news media representative, or the news organization which he or she represents, permission to conduct an interview.

(g) Any questions as to the meaning or application of this subpart are resolved by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons.

§ 540.62 Institutional visits.

(a) A media representative shall make advance appointments for visits.

(b) When media representatives visit the institutions, photographs of programs and activities may be taken, and media representatives may meet with groups of inmates engaged in authorized programs and activities. An inmate has the right not to be photographed and not to have his or her voice recorded by the media. A visiting representative of the media is required to obtain written permission from an inmate before photographing or recording the voice of an inmate participating in authorized programs and activities.

(c) The Warden may suspend all media visits during an institutional emergency and for a reasonable time after the emergency.

(d) An inmate currently confined in an institution may not be employed or act as a reporter.

(e) Interviews by reporters and others not included in § 540.2 may be permitted only by special arrangement and with approval of the Warden.

[44 FR 38247, June 29, 1979, as amended at 75 FR 21164, Apr. 23, 2010]

§ 540.63 Personal interviews.

(a) An inmate may not receive compensation or anything of value for interviews with the news media.

(b) Either an inmate or a representative of the news media may initiate a request for a personal interview at an institution.

(c) Visits by the news media to conduct personal interviews are subject to the same conditions stated in § 540.62. A media representative shall make a request for personal interview within a reasonable time prior to the personal interview.

(d) Staff shall notify an inmate of each interview request, and shall, as a prerequisite, obtain from the inmate written consent for the interview prior to the interview taking place. The written consent or denial becomes part of the inmate's central file.

(e) As a prerequisite to granting the interview, an inmate must authorize the institutional staff to respond to comments made in the interview and to release information to the news media relative to the inmate's comments.

(f) The Warden shall normally approve or disapprove an interview request within 24 to 48 hours of the request.

(g) The Warden shall document any disapproval. A request for interview may be denied for any of the following reasons.

(1) The news media representative, or the news organization which he or she represents, does not agree to the conditions established by this subpart or has, in the past, failed to abide by the required conditions.

(2) The inmate is physically or mentally unable to participate. This must be supported by a medical officer's statement (a psychologist may be used to verify mental incapacity) to be placed in the inmate's record, substantiating the reason for disapproval.

(3) The inmate is a juvenile (under age 18) and written consent has not been obtained from the inmate's parent or guardian. If the juvenile inmate's parents or guardians are not known or their addresses are not known, the Warden of the institution shall notify the representative of the news media of the inmate's status as a juvenile, and shall then consider the request.

(4) The interview, in the opinion of the Warden, would endanger the health or safety of the interviewer, or would probably cause serious unrest or disturb the good order of the institution.

(5) The inmate is involved in a pending court action and the court having jurisdiction has issued an order forbidding such interviews.

(6) In the case of unconvicted persons (including competency commitments under 18 U.S.C. 4244 and 4246) held in federal institutions, interviews are not authorized until there is clearance with the court having jurisdiction, ordinarily through the U.S. Attorney's Office.

(7) The inmate is a “protection” case and revelation of his or her whereabouts would endanger the inmate's safety.

(h) Interviews are normally held in the institution visiting room during normal weekday business hours. The Warden may:

(1) Determine that another location is more suitable for conducting the interview;

(2) Limit interview time for the entire institution if the Warden determines that the interviews are imposing a serious drain on staff or use of the facilities;

(3) Limit to one one-hour interview per month for an inmate in segregation, restricted, holdover, control unit, or hospital status if required by special security, custodial, or supervisory needs; and

(4) Limit the amount of audio, video, and film equipment or number of media personnel entering the institution if the Warden determines that the requested equipment or personnel would create a disruption within the institution.

(i) In conjunction with the personal interview, if the member of the media wishes to tour the institution, he or she must comply with the provisions of § 540.61.

(j) Interviews are not subject to auditory supervision.

§ 540.64 Press pools.

(a) The Warden may establish a press pool whenever he or she determines that the frequency of requests for interviews and visits reaches a volume that warrants limitations.

(b) Whenever the Warden establishes a press pool, the Warden shall notify all news media representatives who have requested interviews or visits that have not been conducted. Selected representatives are admitted to the institution to conduct the interviews under the specific guidelines established by the Warden.

(c) All members of the press pool are selected by their peers and consist of not more than one representative from each of the following groups:

(1) The national and international news services;

(2) The television and radio networks and outlets;

(3) The news magazines and newspapers; and

(4) All media in the local community where the institution is located. If no interest has been expressed by one or more of these groups, no representative from such group need be selected.

(d) All news material generated by such a press pool is made available to all media without right of first publication or broadcast.

§ 540.65 Release of information.

(a) The Warden shall promptly make announcements stating the facts of unusual, newsworthy incidents to local news media. Examples are deaths, inside escapes, and institution emergencies.

(b) The Warden shall provide information about an inmate that is a matter of public record to the representatives of the media upon request. The information is limited to the inmate's:

(1) Name;

(2) Register number;

(3) Place of incarceration;

(4) Age;

(5) Race;

(6) Conviction and sentencing data: this includes the offense(s) for which convicted, the court where convicted, the date of sentencing, the length of sentence(s), the amount of good time earned, the parole eligibility date and parole release (presumptive or effective) date, and the date of expiration of sentence, and includes previous Federal, state, and local convictions;

(7) Past movement via transfers or writs;

(8) General institutional assignments.

(c) Information in paragraphs (b)(1) through (8) of this section may not be released if confidential for protection cases.

(d) A request for additional information concerning an inmate by a representative of the news media is referred to the Public Information Officer, Central Office, Washington, DC.

(e) The Public Information Officer, Central Office, Washington, DC shall release all announcements related to:

(1) Bureau of Prisons policy;

(2) Changes in an institutional mission;

(3) Type of inmate population; or

(4) Changes in executive personnel.