Federal Prison Staffing: Union And Lawmakers Have Long Warned Of 'Dire' Shortages - Cnnpolitics

Federal Prison Staffing: Union And Lawmakers Have Long Warned Of 'Dire' Shortages - Cnnpolitics

Union and lawmakers have long warned of 'dire' federal prison staffing shortages

Staffing shortages at the Bureau of Prisons are dire and widespread, according to agency employees and lawmakers who say they've been warning the Justice Department about the problem and demanding changes for years

14.8.2019

Staffing shortages at the Bureau of Prisons are dire and widespread, according to agency employees and lawmakers who say they've been warning the Justice Department about the problem and demanding changes for years

Staffing shortages at the Bureau of Prisons are dire and widespread, according to agency employees and lawmakers who say they've been warning the Justice Department about the problem and demanding changes for years.

Attorney General William Barr has launched investigations into Jeffery Epstein's death. But earlier this year, he referred to delays in hiring new people at the Bureau of Prisons as a"snafu" caused by bureaucracy in the federal prison system. Epstein's suicide has exposed what the employee union says are chronically overworked and short-staffed conditions at the Metropolitan Correction Center in Manhattan, including forced overtime and officers reassigned to guard duty. A key US Senate committee has also repeatedly told the Justice Department to hire full-time correctional staff and end an"overreliance" on the type of reassignments that have existed in the MCC and elsewhere. CNN Exclusive: The rise of the Jeffrey Epstein mystique The Justice Department said Tuesday that it was reassigning the warden at the MCC and it was suspending two guards at the facility. The department didn't identify the guards or say whether they were the ones on duty and assigned to monitor Epstein when he died. Read MoreTwo MCC guards were on duty and responsible for checking on Epstein every 30 minutes -- checks that weren't made for hours. The FBI is investigating their actions and those of others at the MCC, according to people briefed on the matter. Much is still not known about the confluence of a series of failures that led to the Epstein death. Of the two officers who would have had responsibility to monitor Epstein, one is not currently a detention guard, but was temporarily reassigned to that post, according to a person briefed on the matter. The guard, a man not identified by officials, had previously been trained as a corrections officer but had moved to another position. BOP rules allow for people who work in other jobs, such as teachers and cooks, to be trained to fill in at posts usually manned by corrections officers. The second guard on Epstein duty, a woman, was a fully trained corrections officer, according to the person briefed on the matter. Eric Young, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, Council of Prison Locals, which represents BOP employees, says a hiring freeze put in place at the start of President Donald Trump's presidency is the root of nationwide problems at federal prisons. He called the situation"dire," with decreased staffing levels the root cause of issues from contraband getting in to safety of correctional workers and inmates. AFGE represents workers at 122 facilities nationwide and BOP employs roughly 33,000, according to Young. That number was once at 38,000 workers but after the Trump hiring freeze, the problem was never fixed. The Justice Department says Barr lifted the freeze in April and that BOP has been recruiting to fill positions. It typically takes months to bring on new federal employees. "We felt betrayed," Young said of the hiring freeze."Mr. President, we work for you. You say you're a law and order president and we thought we were going to reap the benefits of that, but we didn't." In addition, more vacancies could soon be on the way; Young says an estimated 5,000 people are eligible for retirement at the end of the year.The Justice Department declined to comment on the staffing issues. 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