WASHINGTON, D.C. — The government shutdown has turned federal prisons upside down — the guards are required to work without pay while the inmates collect their checks.
Justice Department policy stipulates that thousands of hardened criminals with jobs making everything from furniture to clothes to license plates for Federal Prison Industries will keep getting paid during the spending stalemate.
The roughly 38,000 correction officers at federal lockups across the country aren’t so lucky.
“It’s bad,” fumed Officer Kelley Brown at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
She was painfully aware of the unequal pay treatment and upset by it. “Anybody would be,” she said.
“Morale is down,” said Philip Glover, northeast vice president of the Council of Prison Locals 33.
“You hear comments [like]: ‘Well, I guess I’ll go to work for free and I’ll pay my inmate,’ ” he said. “They’re pretty disgruntled over it.”
The correction officers and other prison employees were designated as “essential” and required to keep working without pay.
But the Justice Department’s shutdown plan provided for Federal Prison Industries to keep paying inmates because it receives multiyear funding, not the annual spending bills passed by Congress.
Inmates make from 23 cents to $1.15 an hour manufacturing products for sale solely to federal agencies.
Republished with permission of The New York Post