BOSTON, Jan. 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls (The National Council) issued an open letter to the Biden administration in response to Michael Carvajal, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, decision to retire.
"We call upon the Biden Administration to make sure the next Director is not someone who has spent their career within the BOP and is, therefore, part of the agency's culture of inflicting harm. The next Director should have a deep understanding of the causes of mass incarceration and a track record of combating institutional racism in keeping with this Administration's oft-stated -- but rarely seen -- commitment to racial justice. The Director should be committed to decarceration of people who should not be in prison: the elderly, ill, survivors of domestic violence, and long-timers."
The full text of the letter follows:
The National Council and our extensive membership of currently and formerly incarcerated women and girls welcome Michael Carvajal's resignation as director of the Bureau of Prisons.
The complimentary Department of Justice press statements following Carjaval's announcement obscure the fact that he presided over a particularly turbulent period in the BOP's history. We struggled to support our incarcerated membership during the following hallmarks of his tenure:
Two hundred seventy-five admitted deaths from COVID and an infection rate that is much higher than the general population due to failure to provide PPE and cleaning supplies and refusal to decarcerate to allow meaningful social distancing despite Attorney General Barr's directives
Deliberate exposure of healthy incarcerated individuals to those with positive COVID tests and active illness
Lockdowns for weeks and months with as many as four women in an 8 x 12-foot cell
Bagged meals with rotten food for months at a time, as is currently happening at FCI Aliceville, which is suffering through a COVID outbreak.
Little to no medical care for those with COVID, who are left to fend for themselves in visiting rooms, segregated housing units, and even the kitchen; and
Refusal to implement relief measures, such as free phone calls and pointless restrictions, such as suspending crafting privileges that exacerbate the burden of incarceration during the pandemic
In addition, Michael Carvajal failed to curb other atrocities at multiple facilities, including but not limited to:
Burst sewage pipe at FMC Carswell, a hospital facility that women incarcerated there were forced to clean up without protective gear, proper equipment, or Hepatitis C vaccines
Sexual abuse by Warden at FCI Dublin of numerous women in his custody;
A reported rape at FCI Aliceville with the victim put in solitary confinement to keep her quiet; and
Psychological torture by staff telling people they would be released to home confinement and then canceling the transfer a day or two before the scheduled departure
We call upon the Biden Administration to make sure the next Director is not someone who has spent their career within the BOP and will therefore not carry forward the distinction of decades of mismanagement that has become part of the agency's culture. Instead, the next Director should have a deep understanding of the causes of mass incarceration and a track record of combating institutional racism in keeping with this Administration's oft-stated -- but rarely seen -- commitment to racial justice. In addition, the Director should be committed to decarceration of people who should not be in prison: the elderly, ill, survivors of domestic violence, and long-timers.
The Administration's record on criminal justice has so far been deeply disappointing. It has not granted a single clemency petition. It initially endorsed the Trump Administration's position that people on home detention would have to return to prison at the end of the COVID-19 emergency and its "reversal" of that opinion after a year of protests leaves the door wide open for the BOP to reincarcerate people at its whim. The nomination of a new BOP Director is another test of whether the President really believes in racial justice. We call upon him to consult with all impacted people and to choose wisely.
Our only hope for Michael Carvajal's future is that he stays retired; and does not follow in the steps of former director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Harley Lappin, who came out of retirement and went on to lead the largest private prison corporation globally, recruiting states across the country to sign contracts that committed them to keep the state prisons 90% full to guarantee profits. Naturally leading to increased police activity, harsher and unjust sentencing laws, and incarceration of citizens in predominantly black and brown communities so that states could meet their incarceration quotas.
About The National Council
The National Council was founded in 2010 by a group of women while incarcerated in the federal prison in Danbury, CT.
Our mission is to end the incarceration of women and girls. In 2015 the work that began in a prison yard led to the establishment of The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, which has a nationwide reach.