For years now, AFGE’s Council of Prison Locals has been working to address reports of inmate-on-staff sexual harassment happening in America’s federal prisons.
“Council leadership has worked closely with our local unions to address individual complaints of inmate-on-staff harassment at individual facilities, but we quickly saw that this issue wasn’t just isolated to one facility,” said Council of Prison Locals National President Shane Fausey. “That’s why we’ve been working closely with the IG’s office over the course of years to document these issues and help our members get the relief they deserve.”
On Feb. 23, the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General issued their report, calling on BOP to conduct regular risk assessments on the pervasiveness and severity of inmate-on-staff sexual harassment across all facilities, with a specific emphasis on risks for female staff. An anonymous survey of 7,000 BOP employees conducted by the IG’s office found that 40% of corrections staff report being sexually harassed by an inmate.
Fausey told Government Executive that the report “affirms the years of widespread reports from across the country of this pervasive and demoralizing conduct in our nation’s prisons.” He noted that the bureau has spent tens of millions paying out financial damages, but that the costs were secondary to “the suffering of the men and women who protect America.” Fausey also made clear the Council expects changes to come from this work.
“The National Council of Prison Locals calls on the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to convene a working group of agency leadership and employee representatives, within 90 days of this report, to focus on proper tracking, mandatory reporting, and immediate steps necessary to improve the conditions our employees work in and prevent this intolerable and dehumanizing behavior. Commensurate with the immediate efforts initiated to protect offenders from this type of behavior, we are requesting immediate actions by the Attorney General, the Director of the FBI, and the Director of the BOP to collaboratively align their assets and use the full prosecutorial might of the Department of Justice to hold sexually deviant offenders fully accountable for their behavior, prosecute those that abuse our employees, and prosecute them to deter successive criminal misconduct.
AFGE’s national leadership also weighed in on the IG report and the council’s work.
“The findings of this report vindicate what AFGE members and our council leadership inside the BOP have been saying all along – agency management has allowed a completely inexcusable situation to develop inside the BOP that endangers the health and safety of the correctional officers working there,” said National President Everett Kelley. “We are demanding that agency management take concrete steps to end the pervasive harassment of BOP employees. This issue is not going away, and we will not rest until it is resolved and our members can perform their jobs without this unacceptable risk of sexual harassment.”
“BOP has for too long turned a blind eye to the pervasive harassment facing employees working inside our prisons. Despite repeated reports and news articles highlighting these issues, BOP management has failed to take actions to protect employees – or even collect the data that would help them develop policies and procedures to address the issue,” said National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Jeremy Lannan. “It’s time for management to come to the table and work diligently with union representatives to find a solution to this problem once and for all.”