WASHINGTON - The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today denounced the passage of H.R. 2965, the Hoekstra Federal Prison Industries bill, which would radically alter the Federal Prison Industries (FPI) prison inmate work program. This prison inmate work program helps keep thousands of federal inmates productively occupied in labor-intensive work activities – thereby reducing inmate idleness and the violence associated with that idleness.
“Given the correctional officer shortages at Bureau of Prisons facilities throughout the country, the FPI prison inmate work program is invaluable in keeping inmates occupied and staff safe,” said AFGE Council of Prison Locals 33 President Bryan Lowry. “Inmate assault rates against staff are increasing, and will continue to do so if inmates have more free time. If this plan is fully implemented, security at our federal prison facilities will be weakened. Inmates will be complacent and more likely to commit assaults against our staff and correctional officers.”
This week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill, which could seriously endanger the safety of those federal correctional officers and other federal employees who work in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) system.
H.R. 2965 would eliminate the FPI mandatory source preference, thereby resulting in the loss of countless numbers of FPI prison inmate jobs. It would do so without establishing a strong work-based training program to create a sufficient number of prison inmate jobs to replace those that would be lost when the FPI mandatory source preference is eliminated.
The Federal Prison Industries (FPI) prison inmate work program is an important management tool that the BOP uses to handle the huge explosion in the federal prison inmate population that has occurred since the late 1980s. The FPI program helps keep thousands of federal prison inmates productively occupied in labor-intensive work activities, thereby reducing inmate idleness and the violence associated with that idleness. It also provides a strong incentive to encourage good inmate behavior, as those who want to work in FPI factories must maintain good conduct.