U.S. Bureau of Prisons officials are considering equipping federal guards with safety vests after the murder of a correctional officer, McClatchy Newspapers report. In what one participant termed a “heated” meeting, bureau director Harley Lappin indicated knife-resistant vests could be a viable option for at least some of the 16,000 federal prison guards. “This is something that I think is pretty hard to argue with,” said John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “I think it’s pretty much a no-brainer.”
No final decision has been made on obtaining the vests, at a cost of roughly $400 each. And in other areas ranging from staffing levels to the use of non-lethal weapons, the guard’s violent death has underscored sharp differences still separating the Bureau of Prisons, members of Congress, and the union that represents federal correctional workers. A total of 1,362 armed and unarmed inmate-on-staff attacks were tallied in federal prisons in fiscal 2006; that was a 6 percent increase from 2005. Union leaders want an additional 10,000 federal correctional officers hired.