Durbin announces full Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on deaths in BOP custody, including those examined in the report, to be held on Wednesday, February 28.

SPRINGFIELD – 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) Inspector General’s (IG) investigation into the non-medical deaths of those in Bureau of Prisons (BOP) care. At the request of Durbin, DOJ IG Michael Horowitz previously agreed to review the reports of abuse and the deaths of seven incarcerated men at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Thomson in 2022 as part of a larger report on deaths in BOP facilities. Durbin also announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a full committee hearing on deaths in BOP custody, both medical and non-medical, on Wednesday, February 28. The witnesses at the hearing will be DOJ IG Horowitz and BOP Director Collette Peters.

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“It is deeply disturbing that today’s report found that the majority of BOP’s non-medical deaths in custody could have been prevented or mitigated by greater compliance with BOP policy, better staffing, and increased mental health and substance abuse treatment. Accountability across the Bureau is necessary and long overdue.

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“Under Director Peters’ leadership, BOP is moving toward a new course, but there is much more to be done. Our federal prison system must fulfill its fundamental purpose: to provide safe and humane conditions of confinement and ensure the successful return of incarcerated individuals to the community. Continuing our efforts to strengthen Congressional oversight of BOP, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a full committee hearing on deaths in BOP custody, both medical and non-medical, on Wednesday, February 28 to dig further into this concerning issue.”

Last month, Durbin met with DOJ IG Horowitz to discuss his office’s investigation into the non-medical deaths of those in BOP care.

As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Durbin has prioritized oversight of BOP and established a new Committee practice of holding annual BOP oversight hearings. In April 2021, the Committee held a BOP oversight hearing with then-Director Carvajal to address chronic understaffing issues and other concerns. In September 2022, the Committee held its second BOP oversight hearing under Durbin, which was BOP Director Peters’ first time testifying before Congress since taking over as head of the Bureau. At that hearing, Durbin asked Director Peters about abuse in prisons. In September 2023, Durbin held his third BOP oversight hearing. During this hearing, Durbin followed up on his letter requesting information about the allegations of abuse at Thomson by questioning Director Peters on the issue.

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