Bureau of Prisons director slated to resign amid controversy

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The director of the federal Bureau of Prisons plans to resign amid reports of widespread corruption in the federal prison system.

Michael Carvajal, who was appointed to his present position under the Trump administration, told Attorney General Merrick Garland he is resigning from the bureau after serving in it for 30 years, according to a report from The Associated Press that was confirmed by Fox News.

Carvajal intends to stay until his replacement is appointed.

Michael Carvajal, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., on June 2, 2020. 

Carvajal’s pending departure comes months after the AP reported that the Bureau of Prisons “is a hotbed of abuse, graft and corruption, and has turned a blind eye to employees accused of misconduct.” More than 100 BOP workers have been arrested, convicted, or sentenced for crimes since 2019, with one warden being charged with sexual abuse of an inmate. The spread of COVID-19 among inmates in federal prisons has also been a point of contention.

The AP’s reporting led to a congressional investigation and increasing calls from lawmakers for Carvajal to resign.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. 

“Director Carvajal was handpicked by former Attorney General Bill Barr and has overseen a series of mounting crises, including failing to protect BOP staff and inmates from the COVID-19 pandemic, failing to address chronic understaffing, failing to implement the landmark First Step Act, and more,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said at the time. “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 praised Carvajal’s resignation, saying it was “an opportunity for new, reform-minded leadership at the Bureau of Prisons.”

Michael Carvajal, Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, speaks during a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Dec. 2, 2020. 

“We are very appreciative of Director Carvajal’s service to the department over the last three decades,” Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said. “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 Associated Press contributed to this report.

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