Union: Federal prisons are understaffed, need more funding
- By Sherkiya Wedgeworth
- Apr 23, 2018
The Council of Prison Locals held a Senate roundtable discussion to bring attention to lack of funding and understaffing issues at federal prisons.
The council, which is a part of the American Federation of Government Employees organization and represents more than 30,000 bargaining unit employees, contends that they are facing more staffing cuts at a time when they are already being asked to do more with less, and fewer correctional officers means more dangerous prisons.
"Right now, the administration is trying to unilaterally eliminate the 6,000 authorized positions that were given the Bureau of Prisons to fill each unit," AFGE Council of Prison Locals President Eric Young said, adding, "These positions were deemed as mission critical by the Bureau of Prisons to maintain minimum level of safety within our nation's prisons. How can you gut the very staffing positions that you need to run safe prisons?"
The council noted a practice in which non-custodial correctional workers—such as cooks, teachers and secretaries—are being placed in custodial roles when correction officers are unavailable.
Young said inmates specifically target these staff members and it creates more dangerous conditions.
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) was in attendance and agreed that finding solutions to understaffing at federal prisons is critical, noting that staffing levels in his own state have not kept up with inmate populations.
"All prisons need to be staffed by the appropriate number of people, to do the work that needs to be done," Donnelly said. "The people who work there shouldn't be put in unsafe situations."