U.S. attorney general names Colette Peters to lead Bureau of Prisons

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U.S. Attorney General Garland delivers a statement on violent crimes, in Washington

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday named public safety and corrections veteran Colette Peters to lead the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the office that oversees 150,000 inmates throughout the country's prisons system.

The appointment of Peters marks the end of a tumultuous tenure for the bureau's outgoing director Michael Carvajal, who faced backlash from prison staff over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Critics, including the department's own inspector general, have said the BOP in some locations was too slow to adopt COVID-19 safety protocols, as the virus spread and sickened thousands of staff and inmates.

A total of 301 inmates and seven BOP staff members have died from COVID-19.

He also faced pressure from lawmakers after a scathing investigative report from the Associated Press which found that more than 100 BOP workers had been arrested, convicted or sentenced for crimes since 2019.

Carvajal announced he would step down from his post earlier this year. He has remained on the job, however, pending the appointment of his replacement. Peters will assume her new role on Aug. 2.

Peters currently serves as Director of the Oregon Department of Corrections, a post she has held since February 2012.

She holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Colorado Denver, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Saint Benedict in Saint Joseph, Minnesota.

She previously worked as a victim advocate and crisis mediator with the Denver Police Department.

“It’s no secret that BOP has been plagued by misconduct," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin in a statement.

“I am hopeful that with Colette Peters, Attorney General Garland and Deputy Attorney General [Lisa] Monaco have chosen the right leader to clear out the bureaucratic rot and reform BOP."

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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