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Durbin Statement On DOJ OIG Report on Death of Jeffrey Epstein in BOP Custody

CHICAGO – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following statement regarding the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) report on the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) custody, care, and supervision of Jeffrey Epstein at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, New York:

“I thank the Inspector General for conducting a thorough investigation that reiterates many concerns I have long raised and makes clear that this death was not due to a grand conspiracy, but BOP’s incompetence and neglect.  

“My concerns, and those raised in this report, include the fact that BOP staffing shortages lead to dangerous conditions for incarcerated individuals and staff; that BOP must improve its prison camera system to increase safety and security throughout its facilities; and that many people in restrictive housing need more robust mental health services and less restrictive custody.

“I will keep pushing BOP to ensure they operate federal prisons safely, securely, and effectively, and will continue to conduct oversight of these issues at a BOP oversight hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee this fall.”

Senator Jon Ossoff’s (D-GA) and Durbin’s bipartisan Prison Camera Reform Act became law in December 2022, requiring BOP to upgrade outdated and broken security camera systems. Durbin, Ossoff, and Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) also recently introduced bipartisan legislation to overhaul federal prison oversight.

Durbin has previously introduced the Solitary Confinement Reform Act, legislation that limits solitary confinement to the briefest term and under the least restrictive conditions possible, because the overuse of solitary confinement threatens public safety, strains prison budgets, and violates fundamental human rights.

Durbin called for a new, reform-minded Director to replace former BOP Director Carvajal back in November 2021, following an Associated Press report that found that BOP is a “hotbed of abuse, graft and corruption, and has turned a blind eye to employees accused of misconduct.”  Carvajal’s resignation was announcedless than two months later. 

Last year, Durbin held a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” where he questioned BOP Director Peters.  His opening statement is available here and questions to Director Peters is available here.

For years, Durbin has sought to address the injustices and challenges that impact the daily lives of incarcerated Americans and their families—along with the staff responsible for protecting both the people incarcerated in our federal prisons and the communities surrounding them.  He has worked across the aisle to pass bipartisan legislation like the Fair Sentencing Act and the First Step Act; held hearings on harrowing conditions of confinement, including the treatment of incarcerated individuals with mental illness and the abuse of solitary confinement; and, throughout both Republican and Democratic Administrations, has pushed DOJ and BOP to improve our criminal justice system.