BOP furloughs nixed in the interest of safety

Mar 26th, 2013 | By | Category: Furloughs & Layoffs, Spotlight

XREF:  BOP C/Os about to be hit with furlough due to sequestration

BOP Officer Eric Williams' murder was the key factor in preventing furloughs of federal prison officers.

BOP Officer Eric Williams’ murder was the key factor in preventing furloughs of federal prison officers.

Correctional officer’s death influences block on prison furloughs

Bob Kalinowski | Citizen’s Voice

The murder last month of federal Correctional Officer Eric Williams greatly influenced the decision to block furloughs for Bureau of Prisons employees, according to a congressman who helped secure the funding to maintain staffing levels.

During testimony to a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee last week, a union official for the correctional employees invoked the killing of the 34-year-old Nanticoke man while pleading with lawmakers to spare the Bureau of Prisons from the automatic budget reductions facing every other federal agency, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Philadelphia, said.

“He specifically talked about the death of this young man, Eric Williams. He said we need to prevent these furloughs,” Fattah said Monday in a telephone interview.

Fattah, the ranking House Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, said he and the three other subcommittee leaders quickly worked on a plan with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was looking for ways to maintain funding for the Bureau of Prisons. They allowed Holder the ability to transfer $150 million of Justice Department funds to the Bureau of Prisons to avoid layoffs, he said…

The forced federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, shrunk Bureau of Prisons funding by 5 percent. If the furloughs had taken effect, the bureau’s staffing levels would have reduced by a collective 3,570 employees each day. At United States Penitentiary at Canaan – the Wayne County prison where Williams worked – more than 30 workers would have been forced to take an unpaid shift off each day…(Full text at Citizen’s Voice)

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2 Comments to “BOP furloughs nixed in the interest of safety”

  1. Gadfly says:


    I read the entire article, which was very scant on the details of the BOP CO’s on-duty death. It sounds like he was by himself somewhere in a housing unit when he was attacked and murdered. There is no mention of what level of security prison the CO worked in, or whether or not being alone in that particular unit was standard operating procedure. In any case, his death is tragic. Does an on-duty death in any public law enforcement agency immediately trigger more government spending, or does it usually result in fact-finding, policy review, and procedural changes, if needed?

    I can’t help but wonder if BOP policy was being followed in this particular incident or not. Halting the staffing furloughs is an unusual precedent for the feds to set. I suppose, following that reasoning, all military sequestering in the budget should cease because our military personnel are being killed on-duty in Afghanistan.

    Please do not misunderstand me here, I am not minimizing the tragedy of this CO’s death. I am perplexed, somewhat by the manner in which the BOP union capitalized on their political clout with the Democrats (who have been continuing to run our national debt through the ceiling) and the exception they made in this singular case during a severe budget crisis.

    • Correctional officer says:

      Officer Williams death is tragic to the BOP and to the interest of maintaining public safety. There have been three BOP deaths since the beginning of 2013. The situation that happened at Canaan was not a procedural error. It is very common to see one officer work in a housing unit. Since staffing levels are already low, policy has been written to make this commonplace. If the furloughs were to go into effect the BOP would suffer greatly having to operate on lockdowns and a skeleton crew. This means that the inmates are not receiving the needed re-entry efforts to lower recidivism and staffing is put in danger due to the lack of available officers should an incident occur. Just an FYI…military soldiers are exempt from the sequestration.