Director of U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons resigns over criticism

Michael Carvajal, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, has announced he is stepping down after months of pressure and criticism. The announcement was made Thursday, Jan. 6, by CNN.

“After 30 years of service to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Michael Carvajal this week notified the Justice Department leadership of his plans to retire,” the television station reported a notice circulated to bureau officials.

It also said Carvajal would continue to lead the bureau until a successor is named.

According to CNN, the work of the bureau under Carvajal has been criticized by U.S. lawmakers from both parties.

The network reports that the bureau director began his 30-year career in 1992 as a prison guard in Texas. Carvajal was appointed director of the PRA in February 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people in prisons were at “higher risk” of contracting the virus because of a lack of social distance and the possibility that employees or visitors would bring the virus into the facility.

Carvajal’s action on the pandemic has been sharply criticized by lawmakers. In November 2021, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to fire Carvajal for a variety of reasons, including his failure to “protect BOP staff and fellow inmates from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The New York Times adds that his tenure has been marked by crises, including a string of prisoner deaths, escapes and chronic staffing shortages.

Earlier, on Jan. 4, it was reported that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would step down at the end of 2022. The new Speaker of the House of Representatives is likely to be Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who is considered the top candidate for the position.