Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Resigning After Report Reveals Jails Are ‘Hotbed of Abuse’

The director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Michael Carvajal, has resigned from his job after it was revealed that more than 100 workers at the law enforcement agency have been arrested, convicted, or sentenced for crimes since 2019.

Carvajal this week said that he had informed Attorney General Merrick Garland of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that he would be leaving the role. However, Carvajal will serve in an interim position until a replacement for him is found. It is unclear how long that process might take.

“We are very appreciative of Director Carvajal’s service to the department over the last three decades,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement. “His operational experience and intimate knowledge of the Bureau of Prisons—the department’s largest component—helped steer it during critical times, including during this historic pandemic.”

The Epoch Times has contacted the DOJ for comment on the departure.

Carvajal began his career with the bureau in 1992 as a correctional officer at Federal Correctional Institution, Three Rivers, in Texas before working his way up to positions of leadership. He served as the assistant director for the Correctional Programs Division just before his appointment as a director on Feb. 25, 2020, shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak began.

Carvajal has faced heavy criticism regarding his leadership of the agency amid the pandemic, which saw the tightly-packed and often overcrowded prisons becoming hotspots and super-spreader areas for the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that inmates in jails and prisons are at “higher risk” of getting COVID-19 due to the inability to social distance.

An Associated Press report last month also revealed that the federal Bureau of Prisons, which has an annual budget of nearly $8 billion, had seemingly ignored employee misconduct, including cases of abuse, graft, and corruption.

Cases included a warden indicted for sexual abuse, an associate warden charged with murder, and guards taking cash to smuggle drugs and weapons, among others, as per the report.

The report also noted that two-thirds of the criminal cases against Justice Department staff in recent years have involved federal prison workers, despite them accounting for less than a third of the department’s workforce.

In 2021, 28 of the 41 arrests made were of BOP employees or contractors, the report said, while five were from the FBI. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives each had two staff members arrested.

The DOJ, in a statement to AP at the time, said it “will not tolerate staff misconduct, particularly criminal misconduct” and is “committed to holding accountable any employee who abuses a position of trust, which we have demonstrated through federal criminal prosecutions and other means.”

But the report’s findings led to increased criticism from officials over Carvajal’s handling of the job, while lawmakers, including the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for him to resign.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to remove Carvajal from the role for a string of reasons, including his failure “to protect BOP staff and inmates from the COVID-19 pandemic and failing to address chronic understaffing,” among others.

“It is past time for Attorney General Garland to replace Director Carvajal with a reform-minded director who is not a product of the BOP bureaucracy,” Durbin said. “We have a new administration and a new opportunity to reform our criminal justice system. It’s clear that there is much going wrong in our federal prisons, and we urgently need to fix it. That effort must start with new leadership.”

Carvajal defended his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in pistons during an April 2020 interview with CNN.

“I don’t think anybody was ready for this COVID, so we’re dealing with it just as well as anybody else, and I’d be proud to say we’re doing pretty good,” Carvajal said. “It’s easy to critique those hot spots, but we don’t control that,” he said. “We can only control the people inside of our institutions, and we put things in place to do that.”

Following news of Carvajal’s resignation, Coley told CNN in a statement, “We are very appreciative of Director Carvajal’s service to the department over the last three decades. His operational experience and intimate knowledge of the Bureau of Prisons—the department’s largest component—helped steer it during critical times, including during this historic pandemic.”

Katabella Roberts

Follow

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.

Original News Source Link

Leave a Comment