More than 100 federal prison workers have been arrested, convicted of, or sentenced for crimes — including sexual abuse and murder — since the beginning of 2019, according to a new report that throws a harsh spotlight on the Bureau of Prisons.
An Associated Press investigation alleges that the agency, which has a budget of nearly $8 billion, has often ignored instances of corruption, abuse, and graft among prison workers — letting multiple officers off the hook for serious crimes.
Furthermore, the report states that BOP employees or contractors have been defendants in more than two-thirds of all cases brought against Justice Department personnel this year.
Since the start of 2021, 28 BOP personnel have been arrested and charged. By contrast, just five FBI employees or contractors have been apprehended. Elsewhere in the DOJ, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives each have had two arrests of personnel.
One-fifth of the BOP cases tracked by the AP involved crimes of a sexual nature, second only to cases involving smuggled contraband. All sexual activity between a prison worker and an inmate is illegal. In the most egregious cases, inmates say they were coerced through fear, intimidation and threats of violence.
In Dublin, Calif., the warden of a federal women’s prison was arrested in September and indicted this month on charges he molested an inmate multiple times, scheduled times where he demanded she undress in front of him and amassed a slew of nude photos of her on his government-issued phone.
The warden, Ray Garcia, allegedly told the woman there was no point in reporting the sexual assault because he was “close friends” with the person who would investigate the allegation and that the inmate wouldn’t be able to “ruin him.” Garcia has pleaded not guilty.
Theft, fraud and lying on paperwork after inmate deaths have also been issues at the BOP.
Earlier this month, three employees and eight former inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Jeffrey Epstein killed himself, were indicted in what prosecutors said was an extensive bribery and contraband smuggling scheme. The Justice Department announced in August that it was closing the jail due to deplorable conditions for inmates, the last of whom were transferred out last month.
One of the charged employees, a unit secretary, was also accused of misrepresenting gang member Anthony “Harv” Ellison as a “model inmate” to get him a lesser sentence.
The Justice Department “will not tolerate staff misconduct, particularly criminal misconduct,” the agency said in a statement.
The department added it is “committed to holding accountable any employee who abuses a position of trust, which we have demonstrated through federal criminal prosecutions and other means.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland has said his deputy, Lisa Monaco, meets regularly with Bureau of Prisons officials to address issues plaguing the agency.
With Post wires