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Federal prisons director stepping down after rocky tenure atop agency

Michael Carvajal, director of the federal Bureau of Prisons, is stepping down from his post, an agency spokesperson told NBC News Wednesday.

“After over 30 years in the BOP, Director Michael Carvajal has announced his retirement. He will remain in his role until a new Director is appointed,” said spokesperson Donald Murphy in a statement.

Carvajal’s departure comes after an Associated Press investigation uncovered abuse, misconduct and corruption among the agency’s staff and leadership. More than 100 federal prison workers have been arrested, convicted or sentenced for various crimes since 2019 and, in some instances, the agency failed to reprimand officers who were arrested for crimes, according to the AP.

The investigation by the AP, which first reported Carvajal’s resignation, also revealed a warden was indicted for sexual abuse, while another was charged with murder.

A BOP spokesperson responded by telling the AP in November that the agency is “committed to ensuring the safety and security of all inmates in our population, our staff, and the public” and misconduct allegations are “thoroughly investigated for potential administrative discipline or criminal prosecution.”

Carvajal, a Trump administration holdover, was tapped as director in 2020 by then-Attorney General William Barr. He began working for the agency as a correctional officer in 1992 and worked his way up through the bureau, eventually becoming the warden of several federal prisons. In 2018, he was named assistant director for the Correctional Programs Division before becoming director.

In that role, he oversaw an $8 billion budget, over 100 BOP facilities and offices, as well as more than 37,000 staff and approximately 151,000 inmates.

During his tenure as director, he also came under criticism by some lawmakers for the agency’s Covid response after several prisons saw rising coronavirus cases among staff and inmates.

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