Published on: Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The Justice Department has tapped Colette Peters, who serves as the director of the Oregon Department of Corrections, to lead the federal Bureau of Prisons, according to a statement released by Attorney General Merrick Garland (article available here).

Peters has been in her current role since 2012 and is expected to take the helm of an agency marred in controversy and mismanagement. It is unclear when Peters will start.

The Bureau of Prisons is the largest agency inside the Justice Department with responsibility of 122 facilities and over 36,000 employees. Despite congressional attempts to do so, the BOP director is not a Senate-confirmed position, and the current director, Michael Carvajal, has said he will retire once a new director is in place.

The Bureau of Prisons has been at the center of some controversy with high-profile inmates and scrutiny over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2018, notorious crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger was killed at a federal prison in Hazelton, West Virginia, and a year later, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide in Manhattan while awaiting trial. BOP has not released any official timeline or after-action report regarding the two incidents.

The sprawling agency was also chided by the union and a government watchdog for its early handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the Government Accountability Office found insufficient.