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Bureau of Prisons Union Leader Writes Biden Amid Staffing Concerns, Calls for Better Working Conditions

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The outside perimeter of the Washington Federal Correctional Facility.
Source: UPI.com/X

A local union leader for the Bureau of Prisons has sent a letter to President Biden about the dire realities of their working conditions. For one, the union leader ‘sings’ about the staff shortages in federal prisons nationwide.

So, these shortages are causing safety concerns in U.S. Prisons and unhealthy working conditions, as the available workforce is stretching itself to the bones. Brandy Moore-White, president of the Council of Prison Locals 33, is the union leader in question.

In his letter to President Biden, Moore-White states, “The current staffing shortage within our agency has reached a critical level, placing an unsustainable burden on our existing workforce, and compromising the safety and security of both staff and inmates.” 

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The Council that Moore-White represents is host to some 30,000 correctional workers. However, about 9,000 people have left the Bureau’s employ from 2016 to date. Moore-White said in the letter that they are experiencing multiple lapses in the discharge of their responsibilities thanks to the shortfall in the workforce. 

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There are projections that the unattractive pay of federal correctional workers relative to their state and local counterparts is responsible for the mass departures. In the letter, Moore-White equally pointed out that “The current pay structure within the Bureau is significantly lower than that of other Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, including the U.S. Marshals, Immigration and Customs (ICE) and Border Patrol.” 

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The director of the Bureau of Prisons confirmed this claim a while back. The higher-ups of federal correctional facilities have records of former employees who jumped ship to better-paying but local correctional facilities. 

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So, Moore-White suggested a solution to the problem at hand. He told Biden in the letter that the government would do well to invest in workers at federal correctional facilities. When the pay improves, more people will apply to work for the BOP, and working conditions will improve across the board. Likewise, federal correctional workers will find it easy to discharge their responsibilities with dignity and honor.

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The BOP has since responded to the workforce crisis in their jurisdiction without directly responding to Moore-White’s letter. Collete Peters is the current director of the BOP, and she acknowledged the workforce shortfall during a CBS News. During a section of the news called “60 Minutes,” Peters explained that they are not sitting on their hands but are actively working to solve the workforce crisis in the federal prison system. 

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During her interview on 60 Minutes, Peters said, “We respect and acknowledge the significant contributions of the Council of Prison Locals 33. While we will decline to comment on the letter, as a general matter, FBOP has been transparent that staffing across the agency remains a challenge.” However, she quickly pointed out that the staff shortage is not peculiar to the FBOP alone. According to Peters, even the private sector is bearing a similar brunt. 

Nonetheless, Peters also points to last year’s recruitment data. The data indicates that the FBOP is experiencing a fresh influx of personnel to the worst-hit federal correctional facilities in the country. 

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