On November 14, 2021, the Associated Press published a bombshell article detailed that over 100 federal prison workers “have been arrested, convicted or sentenced for crimes since the start of 2019, including a warden indicted for sexual abuse, an associate warden charged with murder, guards taking cash to smuggle drugs and weapons, and supervisors stealing property such as tires and tractors.” The AP found that the BOP has become a “hotbed of abuse, graft and corruption.”
Of all DOJ workers who have been charged in criminal cases over the past few years, two-thirds have been BOP employees. In several cases, employees who have been arrested or are facing pending charges have been allowed to remain, even when their crimes are against inmates, fellow staffers, or otherwise involve their work duties.
The AP’s article details many of the most serious allegations against BOP employees, including chaplains who smuggle drugs and wardens and other officials who have sexually assaulted inmates. One-fifth of the criminal cases involving BOP employees “involved crimes of a sexual nature, second only to cases involving smuggled contraband.”
The article comes after the AP has previously reported on the extreme staff shortages at BOP, which has resulted in prisons using “cooks, teachers, nurses and other workers to guard inmates, and the Biden administration’s internal discussions regarding whether to replace the BOP director and reform BOP.
Less than 3 days after the AP’s article, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin called on Attorney General Garland to replace the BOP’s director, Michael Carvajal. Citing the AP’s investigation, BOP’s failure to protect staff and inmates from COVID-19, BOP’s “chronic understaffing,” and failing to implement the First Step Act, Senator Durbin called on AG Garland to replace Carvajal with “a reform-minded Director who is not a product of the BOP bureaucracy.”
Senator Durbin’s statement comes weeks after he and Senator Ossoff from Georgia wrote to Director Carvajal regarding understaffing and the BOP’s practice of re-assigning teachers, unit managers, and medical staff to perform “correctional duties,” such as monitoring and escorting inmates.