The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Friday he plans to hold an oversight hearing on the crisis-plagued Federal Bureau of Prisons after the Associated Press reported the agency is keeping its embattled ex-director on the payroll as an adviser to his successor.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who called for the firing of Michael Carvajal last November amid myriad failures, told the AP in a statement he was appalled by the continued misconduct at the within the agency and by his reluctance to completely sever ties with the former director.
Carvajal tendered his resignation in January but remained in charge of the Bureau of Prisons until new director Colette Peters was sworn in on Tuesday after a lengthy search process.
On Thursday, the AP reported that Carvajal would stay on until the end of the month as a senior adviser to Peters, the former director of Oregon’s state prison system.
After speaking with Peters this week, Durbin said he “hopes for serious reforms at the BOP,” but it’s time to move on from Carvajal’s failing leadership.
“It’s no secret that the Bureau of Prisons has been rife with misconduct,” Durbin said, noting his calls for Carvajal’s ouster last fall. “It is time to leave the scandals and mismanagement of the Carvajal era in the past and focus on fixing this broken institution.”
“That’s why, in addition to my commitment to work with the new BOP leadership, I plan to hold a BOP oversight hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee upon our return from the State of August,” Durbin said.
Durbin did not provide a date for the hearing or specify which witnesses might be called or what topics would be discussed. The Senate returns from its August recess after Labor Day.
Peters has pledged to overhaul the federal agency, which has been plagued with a myriad of problems during Carvajal’s two years at the helm. She promised greater transparency and accountability for the Bureau of Prisons, the largest component of the Justice Department with a budget of more than $8 billion.
Carvajal, a holdover from the Trump administration, tendered his resignation on Jan. 5 amid increasing scrutiny of his leadership following AP reports that revealed widespread problems at the Bureau of Prisons. , including rampant sexual assaults at a California women’s prison, widespread criminal conduct by staff, dozens of escapes, deaths and personnel issues that hamper emergency responses.
Durbin demanded Carvajal’s firing last November after the AP revealed that more than 100 Bureau of Prisons employees had been arrested, convicted or sentenced for crimes since the start of 2019. Durbin doubled down on his call for the impeachment of Carvajal in a speech to the Senate last December.
“Since day one, Director Carvajal has shown no intention of reforming the institution,” Durbin said. “For years, the Bureau of Prisons has been plagued by corruption, chronic understaffing and misconduct by senior officials.”
By then, Carvajal was already in the hot seat. Biden administration officials held discussions in the spring of 2021 about whether to remove Carvajal, after the AP reported that numerous corrections officer vacancies were forcing prisons to expand the use of cooks, d teachers, nurses and other workers to guard the inmates.
In one of his last acts as director, Carvajal clashed with senators at a hearing last week as he refused to accept responsibility for a culture of corruption and misconduct that plagues his agency. For years.
Carvajal, testifying before the Senate Standing Subcommittee on Investigations, insisted he was shielded from trouble by his underlings. But it had been copied from emails, and some of the issues were detailed in reports generated by agency headquarters.
Carvajal blamed the size and structure of the Bureau of Prisons for its ignorance on issues such as inmate suicides, sexual abuse and the free flow of drugs, weapons and other contraband.
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The Independent Gt