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Advocates and lawmakers plead with Congress to hire more officers at an overburdened Danbury prison

Bureau of Prisons / U.S. Department of Justice

Union leaders, criminal justice advocates and lawmakers are urging Congress to help relieve a staffing shortage at a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut.

Shaun Boylan, executive vice president of AFGE Local 1661, said the Federal Correctional Institute in Danbury is so short staffed that non-officer employees, including cooks and nurses, are forced to fill in as corrections officers. The facility has 80 officer vacancies.

Boylan said employees have been mandated to work 16-hour shifts when they are short staffed. Shifts are typically eight hours.

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut wrote a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal this week to address Danbury’s staffing issue.

The bureau budgeted for over 20,000 correctional officers in 2020. It employs less than 14,000.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.