Michael Carvajal, the director of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons whose tenure at the agency was marred by scandals and pandemic-induced struggles, will resign after nearly two years in the top position amid heavy criticism of his leadership of the agency, the Justice Department said Wednesday (article available here). Carvajal will remain in his position until his successor is named, according to The Associated Press.
With Carvajal presiding over the agency for effectively the entirety of the pandemic so far, about one in three Bureau of Prisons inmates has tested positive for the virus, according to agency data, a rate nearly double that of the general U.S. population. Seven bureau workers and 275 inmates had died of covid-19 as of Wednesday.
In November, Sen. Richard J. Durbin called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to fire Carvajal after an investigation by the Associated Press found that the Bureau of Prisons was a “hotbed of abuse, graft and corruption [that] has turned a blind eye to employees accused of misconduct.” The AP investigation included examples of a prison warden charged with sexual abuse, another charged with murder and allegations of workers taking cash bribes to smuggle drugs and weapons.
In a statement, Jose Rojas, a leader of the federal correctional officers’ union, celebrated Carvajal’s resignation
“Destructive actions by Carvajal have crippled this agency to the point of uncertainty, like a tornado leaving destruction behind,” Rojas said, according to the AP. “He was a disgrace to our agency. Good riddance.”