Democrats press Bureau of Prisons director over staffing shortages

Democrats press Bureau of Prisons director over staffing shortages
© Greg Nash

Democratic senators are pressing the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) director to address staffing shortages affecting prisons across the country. 

Sen. Jon OssoffJon OssoffMissouri Senate candidate says Congress members should go to jail if guilty of insider trading Perdue proposes election police force in Georgia Ossoff and Collins clash over her past support for voting rights legislation MORE (D-Ga.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick DurbinDick DurbinManchin, Collins leading talks on overhauling election law, protecting election officials Swalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates MORE (D-Ill.) sent a letter to BOP Director Michael Carvajal on Wednesday requesting information regarding the shortages.

“We have been troubled by reports that employees who are critical to the success of FSA reforms — including psychologists, teachers, unit managers, and medical staff — are regularly reassigned from their traditional assignments to perform correctional duties, such as monitoring showers or escorting inmates during recreational time,” the senators wrote in the letter. 

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Ossoff and Durbin are giving the BOP until Nov. 12 to provide staffing reports from the years 2016 to 2021 for all federal prisons under the bureau's purview, as well as current staffing guidelines and data on  the ratio of inmates to correctional officers. 

“We look forward to working with you to better address staffing shortages at Federal prisons nationwide and for your immediate attention to this request,” the senators said. 

The staffing shortage in the BOP has been coupled with outbreaks of the coronavirus, as hundreds of officers and inmates have been infected over the course of the pandemic. 

The Hill has reached out to BOP for comment.