Senate top Democrat asks attorney general to fire head of prisons

Senate Majority Whip Dick durbinDick Durbin Congress Heads to a Year-End Clash Spending Bill Faces Senate Struggle Immigration Redoubts Make One Last Effort to Obtain Green Cards in Reconciliation MORE (D-Ill.) Called the Attorney General on Tuesday Merrick garlandMerrick Garland Flight Attendant Union President: Air Rage Incidents Creating ‘Hostile Environment’ Defiant Bannon Warns Of ‘Misdemeanor From Hell’ For Hospitalized Biden Southwest Employee Following Alleged Assault By Passenger MORE to replace the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Michael Carvajal after an investigation by The Associated Press found “abuse, bribery and corruption” at the agency.

The AP investigation, released Sunday, found that more than 100 BOP workers have been arrested, convicted or sentenced since the beginning of 2019 for a series of crimes including sexual abuse, murder, property theft and drug and weapons smuggling.

The AP further alleged that the base of the pyramid was riddled with corruption and abuse. The agency repeatedly refused to act when employees were accused of corruption, according to the investigation, and failed more than once to suspend officers after they were arrested.

Durbin, in a statement issued two days after the AP published its damning investigation, said it was “time for a new BOP director to be installed.” He pointed to Carvajal’s ties to the Trump administration and his flaws in the agency’s leadership.

“Director Carvajal was personally chosen by former Attorney General Bill Barr and has overseen a number of escalating crises, including the lack of protection for BOP staff and inmates from the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of attention to the chronic staff shortages, lack of implementation of the historic First Step Act, and more, ”said Durbin.

“It is about time that Attorney General Garland replaced Director Carvajal with a reform-minded Director who is not a product of the BOP bureaucracy,” he added.

The Senate Majority Leader said that now that the Biden administration is in office, there is “a new opportunity to reform our criminal justice system.”

The first step toward that reform, he said, would be to replace Carvajal.

“It is clear that there are many things that go wrong in our federal prisons and we urgently need to fix it. That effort must start with new leadership, ”added Durbin.

Durbin and Sen. Jon ossoffJon OssoffGingrich backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race Democrats pressure Bureau of Prisons director on staff shortage Five things to watch out for in Virginia governor race MORE (D-Ga.) He wrote a letter to Carvajal earlier this month requesting information about staffing shortages in prisons across the country.

They said they were particularly concerned about the prison staff shortage, which they called “widely reported staff failures,” because the BOP oversees the implementation of the First Steps Act, the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that the former President TrumpDonald Trump House Freedom Caucus Elects Rep. Scott Perry as New President Meadows ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ with Trump, Jan. 6 Panel On The Money – Biden Closes Infrastructure Week MORE signed in 2018.

“We have been concerned by reports that employees who are critical to the success of the FSA reforms, including psychologists, teachers, unit managers, and medical staff, are regularly reassigned from their traditional assignments to perform correctional duties, such as monitoring showers or escorting inmates during recreation time, ”the senators wrote in the letter.

In April, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Durbin, held a BOP oversight hearing, at which Carvajal testified.

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