Published on: Thursday, February 24, 2022

The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding Attorney General Merrick Garland take immediate action to reform the beleaguered federal Bureau of Prisons in response to Associated Press investigations that exposed widespread problems there, serious misconduct involving correctional officers and rampant sexual abuse at a California women’s prison (article available here).

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa; and California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla sent a letter to Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Wednesday. They want the Justice Department to turn over a slew of information about employee misconduct and procedures in place to stem sexual abuse.

Durbin had called for Carvajal’s ouster after the AP reported in November that more than 100 federal prison workers have been arrested, convicted or sentenced for crimes since the start of 2019 and detailed several violent attacks inside federal prisons across the U.S.

The letter is the latest illustration of increasing scrutiny of the scandal-plagued bureau following the AP’s reporting. Last week, the Senate launched a bipartisan working group to focus on the federal prison system, and lawmakers have been introducing legislation to increase oversight of the nation’s 122 federal prisons.

“We write to urge you to take immediate action to address serious failures by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to operate federal prisons safely, securely, and effectively,” the senators wrote.

Besides the widespread corruption, the bureau has faced a multitude of crises in recent years including the rampant spread of the coronavirus inside federal prisons, a failed response to the pandemic, dozens of escapes, deaths and critically low staffing levels that have hampered responses to emergencies.