The director of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons will resign after less than two years in the bureau’s top position in the wake of corruption and mismanagement charges, The Washington Post reported.
Allegations of employee misconduct, together with COVID-19-induced issues, combined to create pressure for the resignation of Michael Carvajal, the Jan. 5 story said.
“It’s clear that there is much going wrong in our federal prisons, and we urgently need to fix it,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill.
The Washington Post and The Associated Press conducted separate investigations in June 2021 that exposed abuse, graft, and corruption in federal prisons.
AP concluded in its investigation that the federal prisons were rife with problems. Alleged employee misconduct ranged from accepting bribes to smuggling drugs and weapons into a federal prison.
At one prison, a warden was charged with sexual assault; at another, a warden was charged with murder.
The dual investigations got the attention of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which expressed concern over the agency’s banking policy.
The Post’s website reported that inmates in federal prisons were keeping $100 million in accounts overseen by the bureau and the bureau shielded inmate money from being seized to satisfy alimony and court-ordered debts.
The report stated that one inmate had $250,000 in his account; while another 19 inmates had approximately $3 million in their combined accounts. The bureau has consistently declined to adopt an anti-money-laundering policy, the report said.
AP’s report also claimed Carvajal’s office mishandled COVID-19-induced issues during the entire pandemic. Bureau of Prisons data stated one in three federal prisoners have tested positive for the virus, a rate almost double that of the general population.
A November 2021 Post report said Sen. Durbin expressed the view that Carvajal was incapable of preventing recurrence of sexual assaults, drug smuggling, and money laundering in federal prisons.
Durbin subsequently pressed Attorney General Merrick Garland to remove Carvajal from his position. Durbin told the Post that Carvajal’s resignation was an opportunity for new reform-minded leadership at the bureau.
Persistent problems under Carvajal’s leadership also caught the attention of the Biden administration, which contemplated firing Carvajal for months, the stories said.
Bureau spokesperson Kristie Breshears told the Post that Carvajal’s retirement will follow 30 years of service. He started his career in criminal justice in 1992 and rose to the director of the bureau in 2020. He will remain in his current position until someone else is appointed, the stories said.
Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said of Carvajal, “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.”