Trump’s 2019 Budget: Prison Workers to Decrease, What are the Dangers?
Year 2019 Donald Trump’s budget proposal shows that the federal prison systems might receive around 1,000 fewer employees than they have in 2018. The move is likely to endanger both the lives of prisoners and workers. That is according to Eric Young, who is the president of the American Federation of Government Employee’s Council of Prison Locals.
The Bureau of Prisons has already proposed elimination of over 6,000 unfilled positions and with the FY19 plan rollout, we are likely to witness elimination of another 1,000 position in addition to reorganization and closure of some prisons. Eric Young believes that is not the right step to take and it is unsafe for the American population.
The number of people working in the federal prisons
The 2019 budget proposal shows that in the year 2017, the federal prisons system had around 38,513 full-time civilian employees. In 2018, the number reduced to 36,775 and it is likely to stand at 35,786 in the year 2019. The 2019 numbers are very close to those of year 2011 and create a ratio of workers to prisoners that is proven unsafe. According to the Bureau of Prisons, the projections appearing on the year 2019 budget indicate that the ratio would be roughly one worker for five prisoners.
The population in federal prisons is likely to increase under the Donald Trump’s administration mainly because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has focused on seeking maximum sentences for individuals with drug-related charges. Year 2019 budget proposal also shows that the number of inmates in federal prisons might increase by over 10,000 individuals. However, the budget greatly relies on reduced prison population assumptions.
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has responded to the federal government’s efforts to reduce violent crime and prosecute the high priority offenders. The recent declines in the population of federal prisons along with continued contracts with the privately operated facilities have ensured that the Bureau of Prisons has adequate space to absorb more prisoners.
The budget will maintain that capacity by financing the BOP at $7.1 billion, an amount that is almost equal to that enacted in the year 2017. Even more, the budget has proposed to leverage savings in federal prisons by closing two minimum-security camps. To achieve that, they will transfer the inmates to the larger federal complexes. The budget has proposed the alignment of regional offices to do away with duplication and minimize bureaucracy.
What happens when the number of correctional staff falls below the expected?
If full-time corrections officers are unable to make it to work, non-correctional staffs are required to fill in. That creates unsafe situations particularly where teachers and secretaries serve in positions that oversee a large number of prison populations. When one correctional officer is supervising hundreds of inmates alone chances of the inmates getting serious injuries, which mostly result from inmate attacks are higher. The inmates can also easily access contraband.
Low staff number also increases the time backup officers require to respond to incidents on federal prison floors. The reduction in prison staff might come with many challenges considering that the number of prisoners is likely to increase.