In his July 6 Federal Insider column, “Report calls for a better prison staff-search policy” [PowerPost], Joe Davidson referenced an outdated investigative report by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General that ignores the initiatives the Federal Bureau of Prisons has implemented to combat contraband. Staff smuggling is an infinitesimally small source of prison contraband, and we are constantly working to eradicate it. After all, when contraband finds its way into our prisons, the staff has the most to lose. It’s not just our jobs on the line; it’s our lives.
In 2013, Lt. Osvaldo Albarati was murdered on his way home from work at Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, for his role in breaking up a cellphone-smuggling ring. Officers Jose Rivera and Eric Williams were murdered at U.S. Penitentiary Atwater in California and U.S. Penitentiary Canaan in Pennsylvania, respectively, with contraband weapons.
In fact, most contraband enters by being thrown over prison fences. We have found sliced-open footballs (filled with drugs and re-stitched), cellphones and more along the perimeter of institutions and our compounds. And officers are not throwing these items.
We take contraband more seriously than anyone, and we’re on the front lines every day fighting to stop it.
Eric Young, Forrest City, Ark.
The writer is president of the American Federation of Government Employees’ Council of Prison Locals.