Prisons chief set to face congressional grilling

The director of the Bureau of Prisons — Michael Carvajal, appointed to that post by former Attorney General William Barr — is set on April 15 to face a grilling from senators. Aides confirmed to POLITICO that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will question him as part of their first comprehensive oversight hearing of the Bureau of Prisons since 2019.

Two major issues will be top-of-mind for the questioners: how BOP has handled the coronavirus pandemic and how it’s implemented a new federal law designed to help prisoners successfully reenter society after finishing their sentences. On both counts, the bureau has drawn bipartisan criticism. A spokesperson with the bureau has declined to comment.

In March, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) — now the committee chair — joined with Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to urge Carvajal to use the First Step Act to fight the spread of Covid-19 by moving the most vulnerable inmates out of U.S. prisons if possible.