Bureau of Prisons suffers severe shortage of officers, union says
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Jun 11, 2021
Federal prison officers and their union representatives have warned for years of the dangers to employees—and the public—posed by ongoing understaffing at agency facilities. But in recent months, the situation has become more dire.
Fully one-third of Federal Bureau of Prisons correctional officer jobs are now unfilled, according to a release
from the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents thousands of BOP employees. The agency, in order to get by, is working existing officers excessively—with many facilities seeing “vast amounts of overtime” being taken and non-officer agency employees being pressed into corrections service.
While there is no quick solution, the union does see some reasons for hope. First, its push for publicity about the problem has gained significant traction in the media. A recent Associated Press report on the staffing crisis “has been republished by nearly 600 outlets across the United States and abroad,” according to the union. Additionally, there has been significant support on Capitol Hill—for example from Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin (both, D-Ill.)—to pass provisions that would enable retention bonuses and other inducements to help hang on to desperately needed staff.
And, the union adds, recent employee rallies and other protest events have brought additional media attention and continuing pressure on BOP leaders, as well as the Office of Personnel Management, to address the situation.