Chief of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons retires amid controversy over his handling of COVID-19

Chief of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons retires amid controversy over his handling of COVID-19

The chief of the US Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has chosen to retire as soon as a replacement can be named, after facing pressure from Congress over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in prisons nationwide.

Michael Carvajal, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2020, has served in various roles within BOP for over three decades. However, calls for his dismissal have ramped up recently, after 275 inmates and seven prison staff members have died of COVID-19 and almost 42,000 inmates have recovered after catching the virus in prison.

Senator Dick Durbin, leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee, formally called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to dismiss Carvajal in November, citing the bureau chief’s “failing to protect BOP staff and inmates from the COVID-19 pandemic, failing to address chronic understaffing, failing to implement the landmark First Step Act, and more.”

Durbin continued, “We have a new Administration and a new opportunity to reform our criminal justice system.  It’s clear that there is much going wrong in our federal prisons, and we urgently need to fix it.  That effort must start with new leadership.” The BOP has not publicly commented on Carvajal’s departure.

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