Since December 22, 2018, the Trump government shutdown has left 800,000 federal workers and contract workers without pay. Among the 800,000–federal correctional officers. Federal correctional officers were not furloughed, but are required to work without pay.
Eric Young, the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Union, told ABC News,
“In prisons, you can’t cut back on services. The results are more violence, unsafe prisons, people being killed — the inmates and also the staff. So, when you have them being distracted now from not getting paid, worrying about whether they can put their kid in daycare, that brings undue stress on them from what they need to do inside our prisons.”
“We just passed New Year’s and New Year’s for most of us is when we pay our mortgages, our rents and many people have been expressing through Facebook and on social media, that they went to their landlords and their landlords stated they have got to get the bills paid, and if they don’t, they’re going to come and find their stuff out on the front lawn.”
“It’s a difficult job even in the best of circumstances,” Richard Arko, a correctional officer at Florence and the local union president, also told ABC News. Since the shutdown, at Florence, a super maximum security prison, federal correctional officers have worked 16-hour days without being paid. At the same time, they are guarding some of the most dangerous criminals in the country.
As many of us, federal correctional officers live paycheck to paycheck. Correctional officer Arko stated, “We don’t make near what a lot of people think we make.” Arko knew a fellow correctional officer, who had already missed a cable payment and had told his child–no presents for his birthday.
Arko continued, “Regardless of politics, I don’t think any of us here at Florence appreciate being used as leverage in a political gain, and that is what this amounts to, as far as we’re concerned. Wall or no wall, we just want to get paid for what we do.”