Union head pleads for guard funding

We're having issues with shortage of staffing," he said.

Gonzalez stressed to Mayor Marion Kennedy and the township committee the seriousness of the situation, citing the recent stabbing of corrections officer Jose Rivera on June 20 at United States Penitentiary in Atwater, Calif.

"It could be me that we're planning a funeral for," he said to the committee. "Every can't do that job. It's already an unsafe environment ... to have to go through the pressures we have to go through every day.

He implored the committee to write letters to congress to fund the local prisons.

"Our safety is paramount," he said.

Kennedy asked that a resolution be drafted in support of additional funding.

The mayor said he would also contact government officials personally in support.

"If we're dealing with one guard to 400 inmates, if something was to happen, we'd be in trouble."

Gonzalez later asked the public's support in contacting their representatives in a letter to the editor in the News on June 19.

He said there are 1569 inmates in FCI as of Friday.

"We need to put pressures of the legislators to fund prisons the way they need to be funded," he said. "We have equipment problems. We can't purchase the proper safety equipment.

"We have secretaries doing corrections officers work."

It's not just a local problem either, with the entire Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) overcrowded by 37 percent, up from 31.7 percent in January 2000 and staffing at 86.6 percent, compared to where it was at 95 percent in the mid-90s.

He hopes the community will help by contacting representatives at (202) 225-3121, and urge them to provide the BOP with needed funding to solve its overcrowding and understaffing problems.

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