Although federal jails have been plagued with issues—so much so that President Obama and his Justice Department last year vowed to phase out the use of some private prisons—the U.S. Bureau of Prisons paid more than $2 million in bonuses to top administrators and wardens during the past three years, reports USA Today.
Despite the fact that the agency was confronting persistent overcrowding, sub-standard inmate medical care, staffing shortages and a $20 million dollar sexual harassment lawsuit from female prison guards and staffers, many heads of prisons received bonuses up to $28,000.
The bulk of the payments, according to the report, amount to nearly $1 million, and were approved last year, almost double the combined amounts in the previous two years.
Among the biggest recipients last year were four executives who held senior leadership posts at the agency’s largest complex in Coleman, Fla., during the course of a sexual harassment lawsuit involving hundreds of current and former female staffers. A $20 million settlement of the legal action is currently pending before a federal judge. According to the report,
“The bonus payments, especially those approved for top administrators at Coleman, have prompted outrage from staffers and union officials who were instrumental in bringing the legal action on behalf of more than 500 female staffers who were were subjected to sexually-charged threats and abuse during the course of 16 years, according to court documents.”
“These people got bonuses off the backs of people who were actually dealing with the predators,” said Sandra Parr, a vice president of the national union of prison workers.
“There is no justification at all—none that I can think of—for these people to be rewarded,’’ adds Joe Rojas, president of the local union that helped gather much of the evidence showing that the sexually charged harassment and abuse went on for more than 15 years. “I am frustrated beyond belief.”
Last year, the Justice Department’s inspector general found that prison authorities were struggling to provide adequate medical care to thousands of inmates because of persistent staffing shortages. Those personnel problems had left some institutions with vacancy rates of 40 percent or higher.
There were also frequent issues of tampering with evidence, according to court docs.
According to court documents, prison managers routinely either destroyed incident reports detailing the inmate conduct or disregarded the complaints altogether. In one case in which an inmate got close enough to ejaculate on a staffer’s leg, a manager acknowledged “shredding” the staffer’s complaint because the staffer could not positively identify the substance as semen since she was “not medical personnel.”
SOURCE: USA Today