Embattled Federal Bureau of Prisons director resigning

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Pool via Associated Press

Michael Carvajal, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, has resigned from his position amid heavy criticism of his leadership of the agency. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Carvajal informed Attorney General Merrick Garland of his pending resignation. 

The department said Carvajal will remain in his position until his successor is named, according to The Associated Press.  

“We are very appreciative of Director Carvajal’s service to the department over the last three decades,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said in the 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.”

Calls for Carvajal’s removal increased following an Associated Press report last month revealed that more than 100 Bureau of Prisons workers have been arrested, convicted or sentenced for crimes committed since 2019, including a warden charged with sexually abusing a prison inmate. 

The report also highlighted the rapid spread of COVID-19 inside federal prisons as well as dozens of escapes, deaths and staffing issues that led to poor responses to emergencies.

Prisoner advocates and Democrats in Congress have since ramped up pressure on President Biden, who campaigned on criminal justice reform, to sack Carvajal, a Trump administration holdover appointed in 2020 by then-Attorney General William Barr. 

“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,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement in November. 

In a statement, Jose Rojas, a leader of the federal correctional officers’ union, celebrated Carvajal’s resignation

“Destructive actions by Carvajal have crippled this agency to the point of uncertainty, like a tornado leaving destruction behind,” Rojas said, according to the AP. “He was a disgrace to our agency. Good riddance.”

Tags Department of Justice Dick Durbin federal prisons Merrick Garland William Barr

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