Under a new U.S. Bureau of Prisons policy, guards at high-security federal prisons will now be provided the kind of stab-proof vest that might have saved correctional officer Jose Rivera at the Atwater federal prison, the Fresno Bee reports. Facing pressure from unions and lawmakers, the bureau has told union leaders the vests can now be worn by guards at U.S. penitentiaries. Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) wants to require all 16,400 federal prison guards to wear vests while on duty.
Officials say two inmates at the high-security penitentiary stabbed the unarmed Rivera with prison-made shanks. He was a 22-year-old Navy veteran. The FBI is still investigating the slaying, which occurred when Rivera was single-handedly overseeing more than 100 prisoners. High-security federal prisons will provide additional staffing on both the day and night watches and control inmate movement more rigorously, according to a briefing provided to union officials. Until now, federal prison guards have not been routinely equipped with the safety vests customarily worn by some state prison guards.