US

Outgoing Bureau of Prisons director Harley Lappin arrested for drunk driving

Several days after the Department of Justice announced his retirement, Bureau of Prisons Director Harley Lappin sent an email to staff notifying them that he had recently been arrested for driving under the influence.

“I recently allowed a lapse in my judgment to occur, giving rise to potential embarrassment to the agency, the Department of Justice, and my position of director,” reads an internal email Lappin sent to members of the BOP staff on Tuesday. “I was arrested for driving under the influence. I immediately notified my supervisor, as all of us are required to do, and the matter will proceed through the courts.”

But even though the two announcements were made within a week of each other, Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Traci Billingsley says Lappin made plans to retire long before his recent arrest. “He had plans to retire in spring 2011 before the incident occurred,” Billingsley said.

Lappin has worked at the Bureau of Prisons since 1993, and has been BOP director since 2003, according to WhoRunsGov.

In a statement released last week* announcing Lappin’s retirement, Attorney General Eric Holder said Lappin “has lent his invaluable insights and expertise to address prison overcrowding and expand prisoner development and rehabilitation programs. He has worked tirelessly to provide people who have committed crimes with the job skills and educational opportunities necessary to make positive contributions once they reenter our communities.”

Lappin’s memo to staff is reprinted in full below:

Message from the Director
Topic: Personal Matter
March 29, 2011
Harley G. Lappin, Director
Bureau of Prisons

During my tenure as Director I have enjoyed communicating with you through these Messages to Staff on a variety of important issues. Today, the information is personal and especially difficult to share. Nevertheless, I appreciate the opportunity to address you directly.

I recently allowed a lapse in my judgment to occur, giving rise to potential embarrassment to the agency, the Department of Justice, and my position of Director. I was arrested for driving under the influence. I immediately notified my supervisor, as all of us are required to do, and the matter will proceed through the courts.

As I have said over the years, our behavior as staff extends beyond the confines of our work, because our affiliation with the Bureau of Prisons remains with us regardless of where we are or what we are doing. And as law enforcement officers we have a particular responsibility to respect the rule of law. It is with great humility that I offer my most sincere apology to each and every one of you for failing to lead by example. I extend my sincere gratitude to all of you for the support you have shown me during my tenure as Director and I am confident that through you, the agency will continue to do great things in the years ahead.

I hope to thank many of you personally, prior to my retirement on May 7, 2011, for the wonderful work you do in support of the Bureau of Prisons.

The post originally said that Holder’s statement was released Tuesday. Lappin’s email was released Tuesday, Holder’s statement was released last week.