Why Did Mark Inch Quit as U.S. Prison Director?

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BOP director Mark Inch announced his resignation Friday. Photo courtesy DOD.

Mark Inch, director of the federal Bureau of Prisons, abruptly announced his resignation Friday, USA Today reports. The Justice Department gave no reason for the departure of Inch, who had started only last September. Inch oversaw 122 detention facilities, 39,000 staffers and 186,000 inmates.

At a White House summit on prison reform Friday, White House adviser and President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner commended Inch for his work on the Federal Inter-agency Reentry Council; it was not clear whether he was aware of Inch’s resignation.

Hugh Hurwitz, assistant director of the BOP’s Reentry Services Division, will serve as acting prison director. Hurwitz who began his BOP career as a law clerk in the Office of General Counsel in 1988, returned as the Senior Deputy Assistant Director of the Information, Policy and Public Affairs Division. In 2017,  he was named Assistant Director for the Reentry Services Division. In the interim, he has worked for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Education, and NASA’s Office of Inspector General.

For the last year, the Bureau of Prisons has been the focus of a review by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been examining allegations of sexual harassment, management retaliation against staffers and staffing shortages.

Those shortages have routinely thrust nurses, teachers, food service workers and others to take up guard duty in under-staffed prison yards and solitary confinement wings. Hundreds of non-custodial staffers were tapped last year to fill guard posts because of acute officer shortages and overtime limits.

The moves were made despite repeated warnings that the assignments placed unprepared employees at risk. The practice has continued for years even though the agency has been rebuked by Congress and federal labor arbitrators.

Inch’s original appointment raised questions among justice reformers.