Jul 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Senate panel subpoenas federal prisons director in abuse probe

Michael Carvajal, Director Federal Bureau of Prisons
Federal Bureau of Prisons director Michael Carvajal. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

A U.S. Senate panel has subpoenaed outgoing Federal Bureau of Prisons director Michael Carvajal to testify at a hearing this month as it examines abuse and corruption in the agency.

Why it matters: Carvajal, who was appointed during the Trump administration, submitted his resignation in January after an AP investigation revealed a pattern of leadership failures, including rampant staff misconduct, a culture of sexual abuse at women's prisons, a history of cover-ups and a string of escaped inmates.

Details: The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said in a release that it has repeatedly requested testimony from Carvajal dating back to this spring, but the Department of Justice has refused to make him "voluntarily available to testify."

  • The hearing is set for July 26.

Worth noting: The DOJ recently announced that Colette Peters, who currently helms Oregon's prison system, will replace Carvajal.

What they're saying: "The Department is disappointed the Subcommittee decided to issue a subpoena for Director Carvajal’s testimony given that we have cooperated extensively with the Subcommittee’s work and offered to provide the Acting BOP Deputy Director as a hearing witness," a DOJ spokesperson said in a statement to Axios.

  • "Ensuring Ms. Peters’ success as BOP Director is a top priority for the Department, and we are committed to focusing Director Carvajal’s final days at the agency on preparing the BOP and Ms. Peters for this transition in leadership."
  • "[P]reparation for testimony just five business days before this critical leadership transition may distract Director Carvajal’s time and attention away from this goal," the spokesperson said. "Nevertheless, we continue to work with the Subcommittee to find an agreeable solution."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

Go deeper