Mark Inch, the former head of the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Defense Department

WASHINGTON — Mark Inch, the director of the embattled federal Bureau of Prisons, abruptly announced his resignation Friday, the Justice Department announced Friday.

There was no immediate reason provided for the departure of Inch, who had just assumed leadership of the country's largest detention system in September.

In a brief statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions thanked Inch for his service wished him "luck in his future endeavors."

The attorney general did not elaborate.

As director, Inch oversaw 122 detention facilities, 39,000 staffers and 186,000 inmates.

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

"We're working on the reentry commission, where the new director of the Bureau of Prisons, General Inch, has been working with Attorney General Sessions to look at all the different changes they can make in the prisons,” he said.

 Hugh J. Hurwitz, assistant director of the BOP’s Reentry Services Division, will serve as acting director, Sessions said.

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 across the Bureau of Prisons because of acute officer shortages and overtime limits, according to prison records reviewed by USA TODAY and staff interviews.

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

It was immediately unclear whether the House examination was related in any way to Inch's resignation.

Sessions, meanwhile lauded Hurwitz as career public servant who also worked for the Department of Education, the Food and Drug Administration and NASA.

"Hugh has honorably served...the American people throughout his distinguished career of federal service.” Sessions said

According to his Justice biography, Hurwitz began his career with the BOP as a law clerk in the Office of General Counsel in 1988. He went on to serve in three other agencies before returning to the BOP in 2015 as the senior deputy assistant director of the Information, Policy and Public Affairs Division.

Last year, Hurwitz was named assistant director for the Reentry Services Division.

Contributing: Gregory Korte