An official investigation into the most recent fatal assault of a federal correctional officer details security breakdowns and underscores a fear among federal officials who say inmates have grown increasingly violent in their dealings with prison staff, reports USA Today. Jose Rivera’s June 20 killing, captured by surveillance cameras inside the high security U.S. Penitentiary Atwater in California, provides a chilling view into the U.S. prison system where weapons are plentiful and some violent inmates are allowed to “sleep off” bouts of drunkenness fueled by homemade cocktails, says a U.S. Bureau of Prisons report.
After the Rivera killing, authorities recovered 175 weapons in the facility. Bryan Lowry, president of the federal prison employees association, says overcrowding is endangering prison officers and staffers. The system is 36 percent over capacity and 48 percent over capacity in high security units. In the federal system, which manages 204,327 inmates, serious assaults to staffers increased slightly in 2008, from 72 to 82.