Picketers raise concern about staff levels at USP

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Representatives of Local 919 of the American Federation of Government Employees hold up signs during an informational picket Friday in front of the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth. The picketers expressed concern about the staffing level at the federal prison.

Citing concerns rising from a staffing shortage, employees of the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth participated in an informational picket Friday in front of the federal prison.

Joe Gulley, president of Local 919 of the American Federation of Government Employees, said the prison has been short of staff for more than a year.

“It’s causing safety issues here at Leavenworth,” he said.

Local 919 is a union that represents employees of the prison. The union organized Friday’s informational picket.

Gulley said the staffing shortage requires correctional officers to work longer hours at the prison.

He said employees who hold other positions are used to augment the correctional officers, taking them away from their normal duties.

Gulley said staffing shortages are occurring across the Federal Bureau of Prisons. But he argues USP Leavenworth is one of the worst spots within the BOP system.

Phone and email messages left with the USP’s executive assistant, who traditionally serves as a spokesman for the prison, were not immediately returned Friday afternoon.

BOP officials have announced plans to build a new prison on the USP grounds. The new prison will replace the older facility.

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