WASHINGTON—The Council of Prison Locals (CPL) of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today expressed concern at the rising assault rate in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). An incident occurred Jan. 3 at the Federal Detention Center – SeaTac in Seattle, Wash., when two inmates attacked and assaulted a correctional officer who was working alone during morning rounds. The officer, an Iraq war veteran, has been hospitalization for treatment. The FBI is investigating the incident.
The assault in Seattle was followed up by another incident days later at the United States Penitentiary – Coleman in Florida where two correctional officers were assaulted by inmates inside the facility.
CPL pointed to BOP’s inadequate staffing and funding levels as a major reason for the uptick in violence throughout the nation’s prison system.
“We’re outraged to learn of more assaults against staff,” said CPL President Dale Deshotel. “Sadly, these types of attacks – one where a staff member is unarmed and frequently working alone – happen far too often throughout the federal prison system. This is a safety issue and must be addressed immediately.”
BOP correctional officers and other staff members inside federal prisons are unarmed, leaving them vulnerable to attacks by inmates with homemade weapons. For years, AFGE and CPL have fought not only for additional staffing and funding at BOP but also for protective equipment such as stab-resistant vests. The need for additional resources can be seen with the countless violent outbreaks occurring at BOP facilities across the country. A correctional officer can be responsible for supervising as many as 150 inmates at once and is unarmed inside the facility. Low staffing levels and a more aggressive inmate population have led to a spike in violence – something AFGE says cannot continue.
“It’s time for BOP and the Department of Justice to get serious about officer safety,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “We need more resources and manpower to address this issue. The days of doing ‘more with less’ must end.”