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NYT: Federal prisons director resigns amid Kushner, Sessions infighting on prison reform

The director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons resigned last week because of an "ideological turf war" between Attorne...

Posted: May 25, 2018 8:30 PM
Updated: May 25, 2018 8:30 PM

The director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons resigned last week because of an "ideological turf war" between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner over prison reform, a new report says.

After less than a year on the job, Mark Inch offered his resignation to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week, telling Rosenstein he was tired of the administration disregarding "departmental norms," The New York Times reported Thursday, citing three officials with knowledge of the situation.

Inch felt marginalized by Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, in discussions on the prison reform legislation, according to the Times. The bill, the First Step Act, is supported by Kushner and passed the House on Tuesday with bipartisan support, but it has hit a road block in the Senate.

Inch also clashed with Sessions over staff appointments at the prisons bureau and felt excluded by Sessions from major budget and policy decisions, the Times reported.

The Times reported that Inch was caught in the middle of Kushner and Sessions' struggle over federal sentencing in the legislation, with Kushner supporting more leniency and Sessions against it.

The First Step Act would expand access for some prisoners to programs geared at reducing recidivism and offer eligible inmates chances to serve their sentences in custody outside of prison, but would not make changes in the severity of federal sentencing guidelines.

Two senior White House officials also told the newspaper that Kushner invited Inch to meetings on the proposed legislation, but Sessions often sent other Justice Department officials instead.

CNN has reached out to Inch for comment. Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told CNN, "The attorney general firmly stands behind the principles of prison reform. On this specific bill, we have worked closely with the team to offer suggestions that we believe will protect safety and improve rehabilitative outcomes."

It was announced in August 2017 that Inch, a retired Army major general, would take the reins overseeing the agency.

"As a military policeman for nearly a quarter of a century and as the head of Army Corrections for the last two years, General Inch is uniquely qualified to lead our federal prison system," Sessions said at the time.

Last Friday, Sessions announced that Hugh Hurwitz, an assistant director for reentry services at the bureau, would serve as the acting director following Inch's resignation -- the same day that Kushner held a prison reform summit at the White House and gave a shout out to Inch.

In the statement, Sessions thanked Inch for his service and wished him "luck in his future endeavors."

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