Ft. Worth Prison Carvajal
Ft. Worth prison

Carvajal’s Statements

On Thursday, the outgoing director of the federal prisons department rebutted the “common criticism” that the agency is understaffed on a regular basis.

It was revealed at a congressional hearing on crime, terror, and homeland security that just a tiny number of facilities inside the Federal Bureau of Prisons had staffing deficiencies, according to its director Michael Carvajal.

According to Carvajal, the bureau’s task has been made even more difficult by the COVID-19 virus, which he just revealed he will resign from once a replacement has been identified. Great way to be a leader, jump ship or he was quietly fired after Sen. Durban called for his resignation multiple times. According to him, a “common criticism” is the fact that we lack sufficient staff members. Although there are around 1,100 openings for correctional officers, seven of the bureau’s 121 facilities account for 40% of the vacancies.

Over the course of the last year, the agency employed over 3,000 new employees and even went so far as to hire 1,000 more than we had budgeted for. Though hiring is not an issue at most of our sites, we are often outbid by rival state and local prisons or law enforcement organizations that provide a higher compensation. “We have demonstrated our ability to hire employees.” As a result of this, the agency is collaborating with the Justice Department on ways to increase the competition for jobs.

In answer to a query from Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings, he stated that these incentives are for recruiting, retention, and relocation. He said that the salary scales for various places are determined by the Office of Personnel Management.

This site is particularly difficult to fill because of the local industry’s fierce competitiveness. On Monday, there was an event that resulted in a lockdown of all institutions across the country.

There has been a lot of worry about the agency’s lack of staffing from politicians from both main political parties and union officials. Additionally, the bureau’s reliance on overtime and its augmentation (the use of non-traditional correctional employees such as teachers and nurses) raises questions.

Carvajal said “all of our staff are correctional trained,” which “gives us the ability to utilize these staff safely,” in response to a question from Demings on safety for employees while on the job. This is also why you see people leaving the BOP. A nurse does not want to have to search cells, or do count, that’s not what they signed up for.

As for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, “our management of the pandemic has been highly scrutinized despite the fact that we have worked in lockstep with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] in shaping the guidance for the benefit of everyone who works in the corrections environment,” Carvajal said. We have vaccinated around 80% of our employees and 70% of our convicts. And we continue to increase those rates.”

However, notwithstanding the suspension of the federal employee immunization obligation, the agency continues to promote vaccines. According to Carvajal, he believes some employees were fired prior to the injunction, but he has to verify the specific figures. Meaning he has no actual idea.

Exemptions

As of January 20, according to statistics he sought from the BOP, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, said that 4,738 exemptions from the immunization mandate had been granted. Documentation from Massie’s office shows that 4,495 were for religious grounds, while 243 were for medical reasons, according to Government Executive.

Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) enquired as to the possibility of rehiring personnel who had been terminated for failing to comply with the rule. Carvajal answered, “We have processes in place, and I am confident we will follow them.” They will be “following OPM guidance, regulations, and all the rules and laws.”

It was announced soon before President Trump left office that federal detainees who were placed on home confinement because of the epidemic may stay, and the Justice Department reversed that decision in December with an official legal opinion. When it comes to executing this plan, Carvajal promised that the agency will be “as transparent as possible.”

Something they have failed at, evidenced by the fact that they cannot even provide the public with an end date when they have a simple lockdown. Once again lip service that is not only a lie, but essentially nothing more than warm thoughts for the people listening to him talk. Not only that but there is also the fact that despite Carvajal’s promise of “transparency” the BOP is not that way, as a culture. Hell they don’t even allow seniors to view there facilities without extreme moderation.

Carvajal said Monday’s nationwide lockdown was a “serious” decision and he hoped it would be “short-lived,” but he did not elaborate. He avoided getting into the nitty-gritty of the procedure.

Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, who is a member of the bipartisan BOP Reform Caucus, said in a statement on Tuesday he was “deeply troubled” by the deaths in a facility in Beaumont, Texas that precipitated the lockdown. We responded here to Rep. Randy Weber’s idiotic statement where he basically said the BOP needs more money, even though he is not a financial advisor, and has no idea. After sending a letter to Carvajal in September about staffing difficulties at the Beaumont facility together with Reps. Clay Higgins and Brian Babin, they have yet to receive a response.

We will continue to witness incidents of violence in federal prisons unless we address the fundamental issues that afflict the BOP, Weber said. The BOP Reform Caucus will continue to work on these issues, and I urge Director Carvajal to do his role as BOP director and take quick action to protect our prisons and engage with Congress on solving the staffing issues.