Durbin, Grassley, Padilla Meet With BOP Director Peters

The meeting comes after repeated letters from Durbin, Grassley, Feinstein, and Padilla regarding reports of sexual misconduct by BOP personnel

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Alex Padilla (D-CA), met with Colette Peters, Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to discuss sexual misconduct by BOP personnel and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) efforts to root out staff misconduct at BOP. 

The meeting followed letters that Durbin, Grassley, Padilla, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent to DOJ seeking information about alleged sexual misconduct by BOP personnel.  The Senators’ first letter in February 2022 was in response to a series of Associated Pressreports that detailed rampant misconduct committed by BOP staff.  Their letter asked DOJ about BOP’s handling of employee misconduct and it focused on the serious allegations of sexual abuse by BOP personnel at a number of federal prisons, including the women’s prison at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Dublin in California, and related claims of whistleblower retaliation. 

In July, following their initial letter, Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Lisa Monaco convened a working group to evaluate DOJ and BOP’s approach to rooting out and preventing BOP staff sexual misconduct.  In November, the working group published its report and recommendations, which was followed by DAG Monaco issuing a memo directing several actions to immediately implement the recommendations.

In December, the Senators sent a follow-up letter to Attorney General Garland and DAG Monaco requesting yesterday’s briefing, as well as data garnered from BOP’s Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) disciplinary records on employee sexual misconduct.

“Our discussion with Director Peters was productive.  I appreciate that DOJ convened a Working Group to address sexual misconduct by BOP employees and that BOP has begun implementing reforms to enhance prevention, reporting, investigation, prosecution, and discipline related to staff sexual misconduct,” said Durbin.  “DOJ’s report in November was evidence of the desperate need for reform and improved oversight.  I will continue pushing BOP and DOJ to ensure that BOP operates federal prisons safely, securely, and effectively.”

“Sexual misconduct cannot be tolerated in our society, including in the criminal justice system.  Sadly, we’ve learned of instances where these abuses have taken place in what should be secure and closely monitored corrections facilities.  We need to make sure our prisons are taking steps to protect both inmates and personnel from such misconduct.  My oversight of these reports involving abuses by both staff and inmates will continue,” Grassley said.

“I appreciate the efforts made by the DOJ to address and condemn the pervasive sexual misconduct by BOP employees.  The steps being taken by the BOP to reform prevention and discipline efforts regarding staff sexual misconduct are overdue and necessary,” said Padilla.  “Director Peters pledged to bring much needed accountability to FCI-Dublin and that BOP leadership will curb retaliation against whistleblowers.  I am encouraged by our conversation with Director Peters, and I remain committed to ensuring that sexual misconduct is eliminated from our prisons through additional reform and oversight.”

Peters was sworn in as BOP’s new Director in August 2022, following Durbin’s repeated calls for Attorney General Garland and Deputy Attorney General Monaco to replace former BOP Director Michael Carvajal with a reform-minded leader.