WASHINGTON - The Council of Prison Locals (CPL) of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today said Attorney General Michael Mukasey must place more emphasis on fighting crime and containing criminals in the United States. The union says it feels the attorney general is wrong to ask Congress for $500 million to help fight drug trafficking abroad while ignoring the need for full funding for the nation’s federal prison facilities.
CPL represents correctional officers at federal prisons, which house some of the nation’s most dangerous convicted criminals including gang members and terrorists such as Eric Rudolph, Theodore Kaczynski (The Unabomber), and Zacarias Moussaoui.
“While we applaud the efforts of the Attorney General to combat drug trafficking as that ultimately impacts crime in the U.S., we are concerned about our own struggles here at home, specifically the critical staffing shortages at our nation’s federal prisons,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “The BOP is severely understaffed and underfunded, and directing valuable funds elsewhere will only make the problem worse. We need funding to make sure our prison facilities, correctional officers, inmates, and communities are safe.”
Continued lack of funding and inadequate staffing throughout the BOP has left federal correctional officers and the surrounding communities in grave danger. Staffing levels are decreasing while inmate population levels are increasing.
“We can no longer turn a blind eye to the critical situation inside our nation’s federal prisons,” said CPL President Bryan Lowry. “We need more staff to get the job done; it’s as simple as that. A decrease in staffing levels makes our prisons and communities less safe.”
Because of the severe staffing and funding shortages throughout the BOP, AFGE and CPL have highlighted the need for the Federal Prison Industries program (also known as UNICOR), which is a federal work program used to keep inmates occupied and productive throughout the day. Some legislators are trying to eliminate the program, a move which “could put federal correctional officers at even greater risk of an attack at the hands of an inmate,” said Lowry.
The union says serious inmate overcrowding and correctional worker understaffing such as that at the Florence, Colo. federal prison campus, which includes the ADX Supermax, plague the BOP system nationwide, and create hazardous conditions for federal prison inmates, federal correctional workers, and the communities in which they work.