Cory Hodge, a former guard at the federal “supermax” prison in Colorado, quit because “I felt like staffing levels were coming to a point where it was getting ridiculously dangerous to be there,” reports the Associated Press. Guards complain that because of cost-cutting, staffing levels are perilously low, prisoners are growing angrier, and threats and assaults against the staff are on the rise. The $60 million institution is reserved for the worst of the worst, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, terrorist cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman, would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid, and Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.
As of August, of the 221 guard positions, only 186 were filled. There were 240 guards when the prison opened in 1994. Today there are more than 460 inmates, up from 265 in 1995. Supermax has 490 beds. The guards’ union has filed a grievance over staffing levels, and critics want Congress to funnel more money for staffing. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons, with some 35,000 staff members last year, has been eliminating positions. Nearly 2,400 jobs have been cut, from a total of 3,118 targeted to be phased out.