FILE PHOTO: Michael Carvajal, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled "Examining Best Practices for Incarceration and Detention During COVID-19," in Washington, U.S., June 2, 2020. Tom Williams/Pool via REUTERS

Bureau Of Prisons Director Resigning Amid Controversy

            Michael Carvajal, the director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), is retiring after months of pressure from several lawmakers. The Bureau released a message to employees Wednesday stating, “At the request of the Attorney General, Director Carvajal has agreed to continue to lead the agency until a successor is named. When his successor has been named, further details regarding Director Carvajal’s retirement date will be provided.” Carvajal began his 30-year career with the agency in 1992 as a prison guard in Texas. He then served as warden at two federal prisons before being appointed director by former Attorney General William Barr in February 2020.

            There are many reasons as to Carvajal’s decision to leave the Bureau. For one, he came under heavy criticism by both Democrats and Republicans, as well as civil rights organizations, for how he handled the agency during the pandemic. Many Senators claim Carvajal failed to protect BOP staff and inmates from COVID-19, and also mishandled the release of inmates who qualified for home confinement under the CARES Act and the First Step Act.

            An investigation launched by the Associated Press also found multiple cases of abuse, misconduct, and corruption among the staff and leadership of BOP. More than 100 federal prison workers have been arrested, convicted, and sentenced for various crimes since 2019.  Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said in a statement that Carvajal “has failed to address the mounting crises in our nation’s federal prison system, including failing to fully implement the landmarks First Step Act” and that Carvajal’s resignation is “an opportunity for new, reform-minded leadership at the Bureau of Prisons.”

            During his time as director, Carvajal oversaw a budget of $8 billion, 100 BOP facilities and offices, more than 37,000 staff members, and over 151,000 inmates.


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