Federal Bureau of Prisons’ inmates must abide by specific rules and regulations of inmate conduct. If they violate these rules, they are subject to prison discipline proceedings for committing a disciplinary infraction. This page explains what’s a shot in prison and the BOP’s Inmate Discipline Program.
Please contact the Zoukis Consulting Group if you or a loved one is accused of misconduct in prison. Our firm regularly defends clients against prison incident reports and in prison discipline proceedings. Book a one-hour initial consultation to speak with one of our consultants today.
Table of contents
- Overview of the Federal Prison Discipline Proceedings
- BOP Inmate Discipline Program Purpose
- Incident Report or a “Shot”: Prison Disciplinary Infraction
- Preparation for Prison Disciplinary Infraction Hearings
- Unit Discipline Committee (UDC)
- Discipline Hearing Officer (DHO)
- Appealing an Adverse Prison Disciplinary Infraction Finding
- Likely Outcomes at Prison Discipline Proceedings
- Our Prison Disciplinary Infraction Defense Process
- Prison Disciplinary Infraction Defense
Overview of the Federal Prison Discipline Proceedings
All inmates confined within the federal prison system must abide by the BOP’s Inmate Discipline Program. The disciplinary program “helps ensure the safety, security, and orderly operation of correctional facilities, and the protection of the public, by allowing Bureau staff to impose sanctions on inmates who commit prohibited acts.” 28 C.F.R. § 541.1
Most federal prisoners will be charged with a prison disciplinary infraction during their incarceration (informally called a “shot” in prison). Even so, few understand the governing policies and procedures. Likewise, few federal prisoners understand how to defend themselves when confronted with a shot in prison.
Unfortunately, the chances of receiving an incident report during incarceration are high, especially if the inmate is serving any meaningful amount of time. This is because the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ disciplinary code is broad, and sometimes insignificant actions can result in disciplinary proceedings (e.g., having too many books in a cell, accidentally missing an appointment, etc.).
While this page discusses the disciplinary process in federal prisons, many state and local departments of corrections follow similar structures. Any incarcerated individual in the criminal justice system is subject to prison disciplinary proceedings.
BOP Inmate Discipline Program Purpose
Program Statement 5270.09, Inmate Discipline Program, contains the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ disciplinary policy. It is highly recommended that every federal inmate and attorney who handles in-detention concerns become familiar with this policy.
According to the Bureau of Prisons, “staff take disciplinary action at such times and to the degree necessary to regulate an inmate’s behavior within Bureau rules and institutional guidelines and to promote a safe and orderly institutional environment[.]” Prison discipline proceedings are a significant and ever-present aspect of life in the Bureau of Prisons.
Four principles apply to every prison disciplinary action:
- Every FBOP employee or contractor can initiate incident reports (i.e., prison shots);
- Inmate behavior is controlled by staff in an impartial and consistent manner;
- Disciplinary action is never to be capricious or retaliatory; and
- Corporal punishment of any kind is never imposed or allowed.
Table 1 of the Program Statement lists all prohibited acts. According to 28 C.F.R. § 541.3(a), “[these] acts are divided into four separate categories based on severity: greatest [100 series]; high [200 series]; moderate [300 series]; and low [400 series].” Sanctions progressively become more serious as the severity level of the shot in prison increases. See the tables below for a complete list of currently prohibited acts.
Note that inmates do not need not commit a prohibited act to be charged with a violation. The policy stipulates that “[a]iding, attempting, abetting, or making plans to commit any of the prohibited acts is treated the same as committing the act itself.”
Incident Report or a “Shot”: Prison Disciplinary Infraction
Prison discipline proceedings initiate when a staff member has reason to believe a prohibited act has been committed. The staff member first writes an incident report that describes the incident and prohibited act.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons lists many disciplinary code infractions (i.e., shots in prison), using four series of scales:
- 100 series: Greatest Severity (e.g., 100 Killing)
- 200 series: High Severity (e.g., 201 Fighting)
- 300 series: Moderate severity (e.g., 300 Indecent Exposure)
- 400 series: Low Severity (e.g., 409 Unauthorized Physical Contact)
The report is sent to the institution’s lieutenant’s office for processing. A copy of the prison disciplinary infraction is issued to the inmate by the lieutenant on duty within 24 hours. At this time, the inmate will learn what the shot is for.
The lieutenant then calls the prisoner to the lieutenant’s office, reads them the description of the alleged misconduct listed in the incident report, and asks if they would like to make a statement in their defense.
Initial Statement About the Prison Shot
During this stage of the prison discipline proceedings, the inmate can make an initial statement and enter an initial pleading of innocence or guilt. This is their answer to what the shot in prison is for.
The inmate retains the right to remain silent but is told: “their silence may be used to draw an adverse inference against them at any stage of the process.”
We generally counsel clients to remain silent at this stage unless there is a rational explanation for the misunderstanding. But be forewarned, anything said can and will be used against the inmate. The best option is to decline to make a statement about the shot in prison at that time.
Informal Resolution of the Prison Disciplinary Infraction
If the charged misconduct is of the 300 or 400 variety, the Federal Bureau of Prisons does permit informal resolution of incident reports before it is forwarded to the UDC or DHO.
Inmates can receive extra duty (a certain number of hours of menial work) in place of formal disciplinary proceedings. It never hurts to ask the reporting officer or investigating lieutenant to consider this option.
Placement in the Special Housing Unit
If an alleged prohibited act is of a greatest (100) or high (200) severity, the lieutenant has the authority to immediately place the inmate in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) on administrative detention status pending resolution.
While this can also occur if the inmate is charged with a moderate (300) or low (400) severity prohibited act, it is far less common. This is typically most inmates’ concern when told what the shot in prison is.
Preparation for Prison Disciplinary Infraction Hearings
Inmates should locate a quality jailhouse lawyer at their prison or an external consultant to prepare for a UDC hearing. These professionals will help them prepare a written statement, compile any documentary evidence, and provide instruction on presenting each at prison discipline proceedings.
Through their research, and the statement the inmate presents, they will be on the best footing possible. Inmates should prepare for DHO hearings the same way as with UDC hearings. The only differences are that inmates should also present a list of witnesses to appear on their behalf, and they should also request a staff representative to assist them.
Unit Discipline Committee (UDC)
The inmate will be called in front of the Unit Disciplinary Committee (UDC) within five working days of receiving the incident report. The UDC consists of two members of the prisoner’s unit team. At this hearing, the inmate is again advised what the shot in prison is for.
At this hearing, the inmate has the right to make a further statement and present documentary evidence of their innocence.
The committee then makes one of three dispositions.
- The inmate committed the charged prohibited act(s);
- The inmate did not commit the charged prohibited act(s); or
- The charges are being referred to the disciplinary hearing officer.
If the committee finds that the inmate committed a prohibited act, they will immediately impose sanctions. Typical sanctions include loss of phone, email, visitation, commissary, work assignment, or preferable housing for a specified period (e.g., 15, 30, 60, 90 days, etc.). The sanction depends on the severity of the infraction and what the shot in prison concerns.
UDC Written Findings
Notice of the findings and sanctions are issued to the inmate by the close of the next business day. Once the inmate receives notice (in the form of the completed incident report form), they can appeal through the Administrative Remedy Program.
If the UDC finds that the inmate did not commit the charged prohibited act, all charges and records thereof will be expunged. If the alleged prohibited act is of greatest (100) or high (200) severity, or if the Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) has already suspended a previous sanction, the committee must refer the incident report to the DHO. If the alleged prohibited act is repetitive, the committee can refer the prison disciplinary infraction to the DHO for a hearing.
Discipline Hearing Officer (DHO)
If the charges are referred to the DHO for prison discipline proceedings, the inmate has the right to request a staff representative to assist with their defense and to call witnesses. Inmates are also advised of their right to be present at the hearing (as well as the right to waive appearance), their rights surrounding the hearing itself, and are provided with notice of the hearing.
This notice must be issued at least twenty-four hours before the disciplinary hearing officer’s hearing. Those who remain in the general population will typically wait a few weeks before their hearing, while those housed in the SHU may wait a month or more. This is the most stressful period for many inmates when faced with a shot in prison.
Once in front of the DHO, the inmate can have their staff representative and witnesses present. The inmate can also present documentary evidence of innocence and make an official statement. Inmates retain the right to remain silent, but silence can be used “to draw an adverse inference.”
The DHO hearing follows the same protocols as the UDC hearing. The DHO reads the description of the alleged misconduct, the prisoner presents a statement and evidence, and the DHO makes a finding. This is the point when the inmate defends against the shot in prison.
The only differences between UDC and DHO prison discipline proceedings are that witnesses can be called, a staff representative is present, and the DHO is usually better trained than UDC members.
The officer then makes one of four dispositions:
- The inmate committed the charged prohibited act(s);
- The inmate committed a similar prohibited act(s);
- The inmate did not commit the charged prohibited act(s); or
- The incident report requires further investigation/review.
If the inmate is found to have committed a prohibited act(s), the DHO will immediately impose sanctions. These may include loss of privileges (commissary, phone, visitation, email, etc.), monetary restitution, good time, and disciplinary segregation. Again, this significantly depends on the severity of the shot in prison.
Unlike the notice provided in UDC hearings, the DHO’s notice is detailed. It is supposed to be issued within fifteen days, but this is often not the case. Typical wait times range from two months to six months. Once the report is issued, the inmate can appeal through the Administrative Remedy Program.
If the inmate is found not to have committed the charged prohibited act(s), all charges and records thereof will be expunged. If the incident report is referred for further investigation/review, the investigating lieutenant will continue the investigation based on the disciplinary hearing officer’s directives. The DHO can remand the incident report back to the UDC for rehearing at this stage.
Appealing an Adverse Prison Disciplinary Infraction Finding
Following an adverse finding at a UDC or DHO prison discipline proceedings, the prisoner has the right to appeal through the administrative remedy program. UDC findings are appealed to the Warden on a BP-9 form. DHO findings are appealed directly to the applicable regional office on a BP-10 form.
Inmates found guilty can appeal the ruling on a BP-9 form. This is submitted to the institution’s Warden. DHO findings are appealed on a BP-10 form, which is submitted to the appropriate regional office.
Inmates should remember to attach a copy of the completed incident report for UDC appeals. The completed prison disciplinary infraction and DHO report should be attached to the administrative remedy form for DHO appeals.
If successful, the disciplinary finding can be expunged or remanded for rehearing or reinvestigation. These are the best possible outcomes for prison discipline proceedings. If the appeal is denied, the inmate has the right to continue the appeal to higher levels of review through the administrative remedy program.
Likely Outcomes at Prison Discipline Proceedings
The chances of winning a disciplinary case or a shot in prison are generally poor. This heavily depends on what the inmate said to the investigating lieutenant, how they presented their case at the UDC or DHO hearing, and the quality of the reporting officer’s work when drafting the incident report.
With competent counsel and strategic informal advocacy, inmates’ chances significantly improve. But keep in mind this is a long and arduous prison discipline proceedings process.
Our Prison Disciplinary Infraction Defense Process
When clients hire the Zoukis Consulting Group, we first advise how the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ disciplinary process works. This includes explaining what are shots in prison. This way, if you are ever charged with misconduct — and most federal prisoners are — you will know what to expect and what to do.
We will ensure you understand what to do when called to the lieutenant’s office, which is the first step in the disciplinary process. From there, we will kick into high gear and collect information from you, research all applicable policy and federal regulations.
We promptly draft a statement to use at the Unit Discipline Committee (UDC) or Discipline Hearing Officer (DHO) hearing, presenting your best defense. We will request applicable witnesses and documentary evidence and present witness statements and documentary evidence.
Inmate disciplinary appeals is a Zoukis Consulting Group special practice area. Over the last several years, we have overturned over 50 adverse UDC and DHO findings.
If you are found guilty of a shot in prison, we will research and draft all appropriate appeals, providing you with a ready-to-submit appeal to the appropriate agency official.
Prison Disciplinary Infraction Defense
Contact us at the Zoukis Consulting Group if you or a loved one have been accused of a prison disciplinary infraction. Our team of prison policy experts can explain what’s a shot in prison, the prison discipline proceedings process, and how we can help. Book an initial consultation today!
|Code Number||Greatest Severity Prison Disciplinary Infractions (100 Series)|
|101||Assaulting any person, or an armed assault on the institution’s secure perimeter (a charge for assaulting any person at this level is to be used only when serious physical injury has been attempted or accomplished).|
|102||Escape from escort; escape from any secure or non-secure institution, including community confinement; escape from unescorted community program or activity; escape from outside a secure institution.|
|103||Setting a fire (charged with this act in this category only when found to pose a threat to life or a threat of serious bodily harm or in furtherance of a prohibited act of Greatest Severity, e.g., in furtherance of a riot or escape; otherwise, the charge is properly classified Code 218, or 329).|
|104||Possession, manufacture, or introduction of a gun, firearm, weapon, sharpened instrument, knife, dangerous chemical, explosive, ammunition, or any instrument used as a weapon.|
|106||Encouraging others to riot.|
|108||Possession, manufacture, introduction, or loss of a hazardous tool (tools most likely to be used in an escape or escape attempt or to serve as weapons capable of doing serious bodily harm to others; or those hazardous to institutional security or personal safety; e.g., hack-saw blade, body armor, maps, handmade rope, or other escape paraphernalia, portable telephone, pager, or other electronic device).|
|110||Refusing to provide a urine sample; refusing to breathe into a Breathalyzer; refusing to take part in other drug-abuse testing.|
|111||Introduction or making of any narcotics, marijuana, drugs, alcohol, intoxicants, or related paraphernalia, not prescribed for the individual by the medical staff.|
|112||Use of any narcotics, marijuana, drugs, alcohol, intoxicants, or related paraphernalia, not prescribed for the individual by the medical staff.|
|113||Possession of any narcotics, marijuana, drugs, alcohol, intoxicants, or related paraphernalia, not prescribed for the individual by the medical staff.|
|114||Sexual assault of any person, involving non-consensual touching by force or threat of force.|
|115||Destroying and/or disposing of any item during a search or attempt to search.|
|196||Use of the mail for an illegal purpose or to commit or further a Greatest category prohibited act.|
|197||Use of the telephone for an illegal purpose or to commit or further a Greatest category prohibited act.|
|198||Interfering with a staff member in the performance of duties most like another Greatest severity prohibited act. This charge is to be used only when another charge of Greatest severity is not accurate. The offending conduct must be charged as “most like” one of the listed Greatest severity prohibited acts.|
|199||Conduct which disrupts or interferes with the security or orderly running of the institution or the Bureau of Prisons most like another Greatest severity prohibited act. This charge is to be used only when another charge of Greatest severity is not accurate. The offending conduct must be charged as “most like” one of the listed Greatest severity prohibited acts.|
|Code Number||High Severity Prison Disciplinary Infractions (200 Series)|
|200||Escape from a work detail, non-secure institution, or other non-secure confinement, including community confinement, with subsequent voluntary return to Bureau of Prisons custody within four hours.|
|201||Fighting with another person.|
|203||Threatening another with bodily harm or any other offense.|
|204||Extortion; blackmail; protection; demanding or receiving money or anything of value in return for protection against others, to avoid bodily harm, or under threat of informing.|
|205||Engaging in sexual acts.|
|206||Making sexual proposals or threats to another.|
|207||Wearing a disguise or a mask.|
|208||Possession of any unauthorized locking device, or lock pick, or tampering with or blocking any lock device (includes keys), or destroying, altering, interfering with, improperly using, or damaging any security device, mechanism, or procedure.|
|209||Adulteration of any food or drink.|
|211||Possessing any officer’s or staff clothing.|
|212||Engaging in or encouraging a group demonstration.|
|213||Encouraging others to refuse to work, or to participate in a work stoppage.|
|216||Giving or offering an official or staff member a bribe, or anything of value.|
|217||Giving money to, or receiving money from, any person for the purpose of introducing contraband or any other illegal or prohibited purposes.|
|218||Destroying, altering, or damaging government property, or the property of another person, having a value in excess of $100.00, or destroying, altering, damaging life-safety devices (e.g., fire alarm) regardless of financial value.|
|219||Stealing; theft (including data obtained through the unauthorized use of a communications device, or through unauthorized access to disks, tapes, or computer printouts or other automated equipment on which data is stored).|
|220||Demonstrating, practicing, or using martial arts, boxing (except for use of a punching bag), wrestling, or other forms of physical encounter, or military exercises or drill (except for drill authorized by staff).|
|221||Being in an unauthorized area with a person of the opposite sex without staff permission.|
|224||Assaulting any person (a charge at this level is used when less serious physical injury or contact has been attempted or accomplished by an inmate).|
|225||Stalking another person through repeated behavior which harasses, alarms, or annoys the person, after having been previously warned to stop such conduct.|
|226||Possession of stolen property.|
|227||Refusing to participate in a required physical test or examination unrelated to testing for drug abuse (e.g., DNA, HIV, tuberculosis).|
|228||Tattooing or self-mutilation.|
|229||Sexual assault of any person, involving non-consensual touching without force or threat of force.|
|231||Requesting, demanding, pressuring, or otherwise intentionally creating a situation, which causes an inmate to produce or display his/her own court documents for any unauthorized purpose to another inmate.|
|296||Use of the mail for abuses other than criminal activity which circumvent mail monitoring procedures (e.g., use of the mail to commit or further a High category prohibited act, special mail abuse; writing letters in code; directing others to send, sending, or receiving a letter or mail through unauthorized means; sending mail for other inmates without authorization; sending correspondence to a specific address with directions or intent to have the correspondence sent to an unauthorized person; and using a fictitious return address in an attempt to send or receive unauthorized correspondence).|
|297||Use of the telephone for abuses other than illegal activity which circumvent the ability of staff to monitor frequency of telephone use, content of the call, or the number called; or to commit or further a High category prohibited act.|
|298||Interfering with a staff member in the performance of duties most like another High severity prohibited act. This charge is to be used only when another charge of High severity is not accurate. The offending conduct must be charged as “most like” one of the listed High severity prohibited acts.|
|299||Conduct which disrupts or interferes with the security or orderly running of the institution or the Bureau of Prisons most like another High severity prohibited act. This charge is to be used only when another charge of High severity is not accurate. The offending conduct must be charged as “most like” one of the listed High severity prohibited acts.|
|Code Number||Moderate Severity Prison Disciplinary Infractions (300 Series)|
|302||Misuse of authorized medication.|
|303||Possession of money or currency, unless specifically authorized, or in excess of the amount authorized.|
|304||Loaning of property or anything of value for profit or increased return.|
|305||Possession of anything not authorized for retention or receipt by the inmate, and not issued to him through regular channels.|
|306||Refusing to work or to accept a program assignment.|
|307||Refusing to obey an order of any staff member (may be categorized and charged in terms of greater severity, according to the nature of the order being disobeyed, e.g., failure to obey an order which furthers a riot would be charged as 105, Rioting; refusing to obey an order which furthers a fight would be charged as 201, Fighting; refusing to provide a urine sample when ordered as part of a drug-abuse test would be charged as 110).|
|308||Violating a condition of a furlough.|
|309||Violating a condition of a community program.|
|310||Unexcused absence from work or any program assignment.|
|311||Failing to perform work as instructed by the supervisor.|
|312||Insolence towards a staff member.|
|313||Lying or providing a false statement to a staff member.|
|314||Counterfeiting, forging, or unauthorized reproduction of any document, article of identification, money, security, or official paper (may be categorized in terms of greater severity according to the nature of the item being reproduced, e.g., counterfeiting release papers to effect escape, Code 102).|
|315||Participating in an unauthorized meeting or gathering.|
|316||Being in an unauthorized area without staff authorization.|
|317||Failure to follow safety or sanitation regulations (including safety regulations, chemical instructions, tools, MSDS sheets, OSHA standards).|
|318||Using any equipment or machinery without staff authorization.|
|319||Using any equipment or machinery contrary to instructions or posted safety standards.|
|320||Failing to stand count.|
|321||Interfering with the taking of count.|
|325||Preparing or conducting a gambling pool.|
|326||Possession of gambling paraphernalia.|
|327||Unauthorized contacts with the public.|
|328||Giving money or anything of value to, or accepting money or anything of value from, another inmate or any other person without staff authorization.|
|329||Destroying, altering, or damaging government property, or the property of another person, having a value of $100.00 or less.|
|330||Being unsanitary or untidy; failing to keep one’s person or quarters in accordance with posted standards.|
|331||Possession, manufacture, introduction, or loss of a non-hazardous tool, equipment, supplies, or other non-hazardous contraband (tools not likely to be used in an escape or escape attempt, or to serve as a weapon capable of doing serious bodily harm to others, or not hazardous to institutional security or personal safety) (other non-hazardous contraband includes such items as food, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, smoking apparatus and tobacco in any form where prohibited, and unauthorized nutritional/dietary supplements).|
|332||Smoking where prohibited.|
|333||Fraudulent or deceptive completion of a skills test (e.g., cheating on a GED, or other educational or vocational skills test).|
|334||Conducting a business; conducting or directing an investment transaction without staff authorization.|
|335||Communicating gang affiliation; participating in gang related activities; possession of paraphernalia indicating gang affiliation.|
|336||Circulating a petition.|
|396||Use of the mail for abuses other than criminal activity which do not circumvent mail monitoring; or use of the mail to commit or further a Moderate category prohibited act.|
|397||Use of the telephone for abuses other than illegal activity which do not circumvent the ability of staff to monitor frequency of telephone use, content of the call, or the number called; or to commit or further a Moderate category prohibited act.|
|398||Interfering with a staff member in the performance of duties most like another Moderate severity prohibited act. This charge is to be used only when another charge of Moderate severity is not accurate. The offending conduct must be charged as “most like” one of the listed Moderate severity prohibited acts.|
|399||Conduct which disrupts or interferes with the security or orderly running of the institution or the Bureau of Prisons most like another Moderate severity prohibited act. This charge is to be used only when another charge of Moderate severity is not accurate. The offending conduct must be charged as “most like” one of the listed Moderate severity prohibited acts.|
|Code Number||Moderate Severity Prison Disciplinary Infractions (300 Series)|
|402||Malingering, feigning illness.|
|404||Using abusive or obscene language.|
|407||Conduct with a visitor in violation of Bureau regulations.|
|409||Unauthorized physical contact (e.g., kissing, embracing).|
|498||Interfering with a staff member in the performance of duties most like another Low severity prohibited act. This charge is to be used only when another charge of Low severity is not accurate. The offending conduct must be charged as “most like” one of the listed Low severity prohibited acts.|
|499||Conduct which disrupts or interferes with the security or orderly running of the institution or the Bureau of Prisons most like another Low severity prohibited act. This charge is to be used only when another charge of Low severity is not accurate. The offending conduct must be charged as “most like” one of the listed Low severity prohibited acts.|
Published Apr 7, 2016 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on May 12, 2023 at 12:09 pm