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Oregon's Peters Named to Run Federal Prison System

The Justice Department announced the appointment of Oregon corrections director Colette Peters to head the mismanaged and understaffed federal Bureau of Prisons, the New York Times reports. Peters' selection was reported earlier by the Associated Press. The bureau, a network of 122 facilities with an annual budget of around $10 billion, houses about 158,000 inmates. The appointment comes after a long search to replace the current director, Michael Carvajal, who announced his intention to retire in January, under pressure from Senate Democrats critical of his management. Peters, who began her career as an administrator in Oregon’s juvenile justice system, rose to prominence after instituting changes in the state’s 14-facility system to improve the health and treatment of its 15,000 inmates. The federal bureau has long been plagued by health and safety problems, physical and sexual abuse, corruption and turnover in the top management ranks. Staffing issues, exacerbated by the pandemic, have resulted in a huge shortage of prison guards and health personnel, the AP has reported. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL) has accused Carvajal of failing to enforce provisions of the 2018 First Step Act, Durbin called for Carvajal’s ouster in November, describing the bureau as rife with abuse and corruption. In 2018, Mark Inch, a retired Army major general chosen to run the bureau, resigned after finding himself in the crossfire between President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who championed the First Step Act, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who favored a hard-line approach.

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