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Old 08-11-2008, 10:58 AM
Zelda50 Zelda50 is offline
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Default Guards Union negotiate for changes in fed prisons

Keep reading - this is not just about the vests. Z.

Union: Federal prison vest deal near
Officials demanded change after stabbing

By CORINNE REILLY
MERCED SUN-STAR

Union officials said Thursday they're moving closer to reaching a deal
with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to make stab-resistant vests available
to all federal correctional workers.

Union officials began demanding safety-related reforms across the
federal prison system after two inmates fatally stabbed Jose Rivera, a
correctional officer at U.S. Penitentiary Atwater, inside a housing unit
at the prison in June.

Rivera, a 22-year-old Navy veteran, was alone with more than 100 inmates
June 20 when he was stabbed in the heart with a handmade shank.

Though guards in many state prisons and local jails often carry weapons
and wear stab-resistant vests, federal prison policies have barred such
equipment.

National union officials met Thursday with the Bureau of Prisons. Though
the bureau previously agreed to widen its use of protective vests, union
leaders hope to make them mandatory, said Bryan Lowry, president of the
Council of Prison Locals of the American Federation of Government
Employees.

The union also wants to ensure the bureau buys high-quality vests that
will stop all types of sharp weapons inmates are known to fashion inside
prisons.

Bureau officials would not discuss Thursday's meeting. Lowry
characterized it as a productive session where the union and the bureau
each staged demonstrations to show the effectiveness of the two types of
vests the sides have proposed.

Ultimately, no decisions emerged from the meeting. But Lowry said he
left feeling optimistic.

"They basically told us that what we want isn't out of reach," he said,
adding that the bureau promised to give a formal answer on the vests by
next week.

Union officials also have demanded staffing increases across the federal
prison system and policy changes that would make nonlethal weapons, such
as batons and pepper spray, standard equipment for officers.

Lowry said neither of those issues was discussed Thursday, though the
union plans to continue pursuing both.

In an e-mail Thursday, a spokeswoman reiterated that the Bureau of
Prisons' plans to increase staffing as some facilities. It also plans to
rework inmate movement schedules so that only certain portions of a
prison's population are allowed to move from one location to another --
to their cells, to meals, to classes, work or church -- at a time.

"The (bureau) will implement changes at high-security institutions first
and consider changes to other institutions in the months ahead," wrote
spokeswoman Traci Billingsley.

Link to rest of article:
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/385058.html
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