Main office of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C. (AgnosticPreachersKid, Wikimedia Commons,

JOHN KIRIAKOU: Derek Chauvin & the State of US Prisons

By John Kiriakou |

I’ve written a lot about the corrupt, inefficient and failing Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP.)  Most recently, the mainstream media have lauded the BOP’s new director, Colette Peters, who was brought in to “clean the place up.”

Peters is a former successful director of the Oregon Department of Corrections. The idea was that, rather than promote somebody from within the BOP to lead it, which has been done time and time again and which has failed time and time again, maybe a fresh face from outside could bring a new perspective and could turn the BOP around.

That hasn’t happened.  If anything, Peters has been ignored by her subordinates and, in many cases, circumvented.  While by all accounts, she’s a very nice person who means well and who really does want to improve federal prisons, she is powerless to do so.

In the absence of real accountability and any meaningful oversight from Capitol Hill, she is doomed to fail. If 2023 has been any indication, that failure is going to be clear.

The BOP’s most recent appearance in the media has been related to the near-fatal stabbing of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who is serving a sentence of 22-and-a-half years in prison for his role in the murder of George Floyd.

Chauvin is doing his time in the federal system because it is supposed to be safer than most state prison systems. Chauvin otherwise would have been in a state penitentiary in Minnesota.

Instead, he is in a medium-security federal prison in Tucson, Arizona.  He was stabbed there by another prisoner on Nov. 24 and guards had to “perform life-saving measures” on him.

Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona. (Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

The BOP’s headquarters blamed staffing problems for the stabbing, saying that there simply aren’t enough prison guards to keep the facilities safe.  I’m no apologist for the BOP, but in a country with 4 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prison population, according to World Prison Brief — and an employee suicide rate that’s off the charts (all while earning so little money that qualifies many guards for food stamps), who would want to work for the BOP?

In the meantime, the BOP’s 2023 problems have not been limited to the Chauvin stabbing or to the earlier stabbing of Dr. Larry Nassar, the physician and former team doctor for the U.S. National Women’s Gymnastics Team who molested hundreds of girls and young women under his care.  Other incidents include:

A BOP guard in Florida was recently charged with 14 felony counts of wire fraud, disability fraud, and aggravated identity theft in a scheme that allegedly netted her $40,000.  Katrina Denise McCoy faces 20 years in prison.

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