An Associated Press investigation has disclosed widespread sexual abuse, criminal misconduct, staffing shortages, prisoner escapes, neglect and leadership failures in the Federal Bureau of Prisons,
The resulting stories grabbed the attention of federal legislators.
A May 5 AP story reported, “Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., introduced legislation that would require the Bureau of Prisons to fix broken cameras. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, went to the Senate floor and read AP stories into the Congressional record as he demanded Attorney General Merrick Garland fire the agency’s director, Michael Carvajal.”
This led to the announced resignation of Carvajal and his top deputy.
The investigation started in 2019, when a high-profile prisoner, Jeffrey Epstein, committed suicide at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. AP reporters Michael Balsamo and Michael Sisak uncovered a failing prison.
A shortage of prison staff created an atmosphere of chaos, AP reported. Staff was using the internet while at their work stations, others being pulled off of their assignments and redirected to other parts of the prison. Staff and guards were too exhausted to work because of too much overtime.
AP’s investigative team then turned its attention toward other federal prisons throughout the country.
During and after COVID-19 outbreaks, executions of federal prisoners were mandated. They turned out to be COVID super-spreader events, where the majority of execution witnesses caught COVID and spread it to others.
Since 2019, over 100 Bureau of Prisons workers and prison guards were arrested, convicted or sentenced for allowing prisoner escapes, predatory sexual abuse, and mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis.
Other problems uncovered by the investigation were that, at some institutions, doors were left open, security cameras were broken, and prisoners escaped unnoticed for hours, leading up to at least 29 known escapes, half of them still at large.
These crimes and infractions were kept out of the public’s eye for years, the story noted.
At a female prison in California, the women prisoners were molested and sexually abused for years. Prison guards, a chaplain and the warden have been criminally charged.
“These stories aren’t possible without the help of whistleblowers, inmates and their families, and anyone else who suspects wrongdoing or knows what’s going on and tells us about it,” said the AP story.