The stabbing death of a correctional officer at the Atwater U.S. Penitentiary in California has started a national campaign to overhaul failed safety policies across the federal prison system, reports the Merced (CA) Sun-Star. Yesterday, the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents federal corrections officers, ran a full-age ad in USA Today featuring a letter from slain officer Jose Rivera’s family blaming overcrowding and inadequate protections inside the penitentiary for his death.
Rivera, a 22-year-old Navy veteran who had worked at the institution less than 11 months, died June 20 after he was attacked by two inmates wielding handmade shanks. The union wants more funding to increase staffing in federal prisons and policy changes that would make stab-resistant vests and nonlethal weapons, such as batons and Tasers, standard equipment for all officers. Rivera was alone with more than 100 inmates when he was attacked — a standard inmate-to-officer ratio inside federal prison housing units. The Bureau of Prisons has said it is considering making stab-resistant vests available to some correctional officers.