Bureau of Prisons says it is working to fill vacancies

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Bureau of Prisons states it is actively seeking to hire more staff, with particular focus on correctional officers.

Randilee Giamusso, with the Office of Public Affairs for the BoP, responded to Gila Valley Central’s request for comment following release of a letter by American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals No. 33 calling for an increase in staffing at Western Region prisons.

“The BOP is committed to ensuring appropriate staffing levels to maintain the safety and security of staff, inmates, and the institution,” Giamusso wrote. “We continue to evaluate and use a breadth of employment incentives to attract and retain staff.”

Giamusso also said the BoP’s last hiring initiative, announced in February 2021, resulted in 2,088 new employees.

“The agency continues to focus on hiring and retaining staff nationally, including offering hiring incentives where appropriate. Furthermore, the BOP offers various employment incentives to remain competitive with private and federal entities,” Giamusso wrote.

In its December letter to Bureau of Prisons Regional Director Melissa Rios, the union said a hiring freeze, initiated by the ongoing pandemic, “has turned the staffing crisis into an emergency. Our staff are being stretched thin and worked to the breaking point. The staff morale and welfare is at an all-time low. The fear of staff committing suicide are now reality, and it is happening at a rate that is heart wrenching.”

The Western Region includes Federal Correction Institution-Safford and its union representative, Christopher Ornelas, signed the December letter demanding a lifting of the hiring freeze.