Union, McFayden: More Prison Staff Needed

Dem Rep. Buffie McFayden of Pueblo and members of the American Federation of Government Employees Local Union gathered yesterday at the Florence Correctional Complex to raise their concerns over the understaffing occurring at federal prisons.

SuperMax, the maxium security prison in Florence, now has 50 to 60 less guards then it did when it opened in 1994, according to Rocky Moutain News.
“Fremont County keeps the U.S. safe and the corrections workers put their lives in jeopardy every day to keep this county safe, so we are calling upon the federal government to be accountable about public safety,” McFadyen is quoted in the Pueblo Chieftain.

Some of the United States most dangerous prisoners are held at SuperMax, including “20th hijacker” Zacarias Moussaoui, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, and 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Yousef.

The concerns are real.  Recent history shows the problems with understaffing a prison.  Most notably in Colorado were the riots at Crowley County prison in July 2004, run by private firm Corrections Corporation of America.

According to a Department of Corrections Audit conducted in 2005, before the riot erupted at the Crowley prison, only 33 uniformed officers were on duty supervising 1,122 inmates.  Some officers had been only the job for two days or less.  When some inmates began to damage property, the severely inexperienced and outnumbered guard force fled, allowing the riot to grow.

Lawsuits also came out of the Crowley Prison riot, as inmates who were not involved in the rioting were “cuffed”, “dragged face-down through water”, and made to “walk barefoot over broken glass”.  These first hand accounts were given by Oscar Barron, an inmate during the riot, quoted in a August 24, 2005 AP Wire story.