News - Sauk Valley

Durbin meets with newly sworn-in director of federal prisons

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois met by videoconference with Colette Peters, the new director of the federal Bureau of Prisons.

“After today’s meeting, I’m more hopeful than ever that with Director Peters, Attorney General Garland and Deputy Attorney General Monaco have chosen the right leader to clear out the bureaucratic rot and reform BOP,” said Durbin in a news release.  “It is a tall order, but on today’s call, I promised to work with Ms. Peters to help her succeed in this new role.”

Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a lead author of the First Step Act, has called for new leadership for the federal prison system since November.

Peters was sworn in on Tuesday. She was the Director of the Oregon Department of Corrections since 2012. She is the first woman to serve as ODOC Director and is also the Chair of the National Institute of Corrections Advisory Board and a past Vice President of the Association of State Correctional Administrators.

During their meeting, Durbin asked Peters to commit to root out misconduct and to implement reforms—including the continued implementation of the First Step Act.  Durbin also expressed his expectation that the bureau would cooperate with the Judiciary Committee’s oversight requests in a timely manner.

Durbin spent more than 2 hours touring Thomson prison on July 9, talking with union leaders, inmates and its warden Thomas Bergami. The prison has been a focal point of Durbin’s criticisms of the bureau.

A report released May 31 by National Public Radio and the Marshall Project outlined the purported abuse against inmates. These included civil rights violations, policy violations and potential criminal behavior, that have taken place since March 2020. Seven inmates also have died since then, most being the result of homicide.