An AFGE local representing correctional officers at Federal Correctional Institution Mendota in California hosted a congressional tour of the facility June 17 to highlight the prison’s dangerous conditions after their repeated efforts to get Bureau of Prisons (BOP) management to address the issues fell on deaf ears.
AFGE Local 1237 invited the local congressional delegation to tour the medium-security facility, which is under investigation by Congress and the Office of Special Counsel after a heat wave last summer exposed a broken air conditioning system and other unaddressed maintenance issues like toxic mold that got employees sick. The air conditioning system broke again this year, creating health hazards and stress among inmates and officers alike.
U.S. Rep. TJ Cox, whose district includes the prison, toured the facility along with staff from the offices of Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein. They spent several hours discussing the issues and tried to find solutions.
AFGE Local 1237 President Aaron McGlothin said staffing cuts and numerous maintenance issues have put both officers and inmates at risk, and the local has been seeking assistance on these issues for over a year.
“We are grateful that Congressman Cox was able to personally tour the prison to meet staff firsthand and witness the hard work and dedication put forth protecting the community from violent offenders,” said McGlothin. “We thank Senators Harris and Feinstein for their support as well.”
Rep. Cox previously requested a congressional inquiry into moneys that the institution returned to the agency for the last three fiscal years, as well as the executive bonuses that were paid out.
McGlothin said his facility lost 37 positions as part of BOP’s nationwide staffing cuts last year, but certain executive staff members nationwide are eligible for large incentives based off of operating under budget and unused funds returned to the agency.
The staffers from the two senators’ offices have requested in-depth details of the situation for a possible meeting with the senators.