'Congress expects results': Senators scold Bureau of Prisons director over lack of transparency

'Congress expects results': Senators scold Bureau of Prisons director over lack of transparency
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 02: U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Colette Peters delivers remarks after her swearing in at BOP headquarters on August 2, 2022 in Washington, DC. Peters previously served as Director of the Oregon Department of Corrections. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images).

Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Colette Peters drew ire from both parties during a United States Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday after she refused to answer questions about the dire state of American corrections facilities, the Associated Press' Michael Sisak reports.

"Senators complained that Colette Peters appears to have reneged on promises she made when she took the job last year that she'd be candid and open with lawmakers, and that 'the buck stops' with her for turning the troubled agency around," writes Sisak.

Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sisak explains, "said Peters has forced them to wait more than a year for answers to written follow-up questions they sent her after she first appeared before the committee in September 2022, leaving them without information critical to fully understanding how the agency runs."

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Sisak notes that although senators concede that "the clock is still ticking" for "Peters to commit to a firm deadline for responding," Peters "also irked senators by claiming she couldn't answer even the most basic questions about agency operations — like how many correctional officers are on staff — and by referring to notes and talking points on a tablet computer in front of her."

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) reportedly told Peters that "Senators really take it personally when you don't answer their questions" and "more than almost any other thing that I would recommend I'd make that a high priority."

Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia) echoed Durbin's statement, telling Peters that "you've now been in the post for about a year and Congress expects results."

Meanwhile, according to Sisak, "The Bureau of Prisons, the Justice Department's largest law enforcement agency with more than 30,000 employees, 158,000 inmates, and an annual budget of about $8 billion, has been under increasing scrutiny from Congress amid myriad crises, many of them exposed by AP reporting. They include rampant sexual abuse of prisoners by staff and other staff criminal conduct, escapes, high-profile violence and inmate deaths, chronic understaffing that has hampered emergency responses."

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Sisak's full scoop is available at this link.

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