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By Steve Bartlemus, President
AFGE /CPL-33 Local 3882
FCI – Ray Brook

The latest outbreak of violence at Federal Correctional Institution – Ray Brook in upstate New York has put the spotlight back on a very serious situation at the Federal Bureau of Prisons: Overcrowded, understaffed, and underfunded prisons. We recently had two gang-related incidents which led to the hospitalization of one inmate and the near-assault of a correctional officer. Despite the violence, prison management mostly kept operations running normally.

 As president of the local union at FCI – Ray Brook, I have witnessed this type of violence first-hand. We are understaffed, without protection, and facing a more aggressive inmate population. We are headed down a dangerous path by ignoring common-sense approaches to safely and securely operating our prison. The time to act and reform FCI – Ray Brook is now, before it’s too late.

In addition to fully staffing and funding our prison, we’d like the agency to responsibly issue stab-resistant vests and other non-lethal weaponry such as batons and pepper spray. This would give correctional officers working in understaffed prisons a means of protection until help arrives, when such violent outbreaks do occur.

We can no longer afford to “do more with less.” If management continues to operate the BOP under its current conditions – understaffed, overcrowded, and with an increasingly aggressive inmate population – more violence is sure to follow.

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