Supermax safety

Sen. Salazar said, “We are committed to making sure this is the safest and most secure for the protection of the people who work and live here.” Both senators previously had toured Supermax, and Sen. Salazar noted that staffing has been improved since then, in addition to the technology upgrades.

This is not to say that Supermax has not been without growing pains. An Inspector General’s report issued last year detailed relaxed phone and mail monitoring, particularly for the terrorists being held inside the lockup.

As a result of that report, the Bureau of Prisons has monitored 100 percent of the mail to or from inmates designated as terrorists. All of those prisoners’ phone calls also are monitored, although sometimes due to staffing patterns the calls are recorded, then listened to later.

Officials of the American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing the rank-and-file prison staffers, say more should be done to beef up security. Particularly, they believe staffing levels should be bolstered.

We certainly don’t believe the prison housing the nastiest of nasties in the federal system ought to be operated unsafely, so the union’s concerns should get a fair hearing. On the other hand, the judgment of the professional managers should also be given due weight.

Sen. Allard said the government probably will not be able to address 100 percent of the staffers’ concerns at least right away - such things are a matter of available funding - but he added that more employees and more security could be coming in the future. With a growing prison population, such measures will have to be considered by Congress.

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