WASHINGTON— The Council of Prison Locals (CPL) of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is mourning the loss of a federal correctional officer killed in the line of duty. Jose Rivera, 22, was killed on Friday, June 20 by two inmates with homemade weapons at the United States Penitentiary in Atwater, Calif. Rivera, a member of AFGE Local 1242, was employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for less than a year.
“We are deeply saddened by the untimely death of one of our correctional officers,” said Bryan Lowry, CPL president. “Jose Rivera was a dedicated employee of the BOP, and this is a terrible loss. Our sympathies and condolences go out to his family at this very difficult time.”
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.
For years, AFGE and CPL have been advocates for additional staffing and funding throughout the BOP in an effort to safely maintain our nation’s prisons and surrounding communities. 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 Lowry. “What happened to Jose Rivera sends a clear message that now is the time for change throughout the BOP. We must protect our correctional officers so this type of horrific tragedy doesn’t happen in the future.
“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,” added Lowry.
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 plague the BOP system nationwide, and create hazardous conditions for federal prison inmates, federal correctional workers, and the communities in which they work.
For more information on Jose Rivera, please visit www.cpl33.info.