Texas Representative Randy Weber (R) has officially introduced the Pay Our Correctional Officers Fairly Act. According to his statement, the new legislation “would revise locality pay rates for federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) employees.”
BOP facilities are facing retention problems and the Pay Our Correctional Officers Fairly Act aims to change that.
One of the main objectives of the bill is to “allow for competitive pay”. The bill intends to specifically help “BOP facilities located within 200 miles of the nearest General Schedule (GS)” to be able to pay more wages that would cover cost-of-living, commute times, and the employees’ hard work.
"Our correctional officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe and our prisons secure," said Rep. Randy Weber.
The Texas lawmaker expressed his desire for correctional officers to be fairly compensated for their work.
"They deserve to be compensated fairly for their tireless service. This bill would provide a much-needed pay increase to federal correctional officers, including those at the Beaumont Federal Prison in my district and facilities nationwide.”
Weber emphasized that worker retention will increase because of the bill.
“It's a common-sense measure that will help us retain and recruit highly qualified officers and show our appreciation for their hard work and dedication."
Weber was joined in the bill by several sponsors. One of those sponsors, Pennsylvania Representative Matt Cartwright (D), spoke about the hard work that many correctional officers do.
“Correctional officers and prison employees put their lives on the line every day to meet inmates’ needs and keep our communities safe,” said Rep. Cartwright.
The new initiatives that the bill promotes are meant to help address the “critical; staffing shortages”.
“This much-needed pay increase will help address critical staffing shortages at federal prisons across the country and will serve as an investment in the safety of the brave correction officers who go to work in them every day.”
The bill was drawn up in a bipartisan effort.
"The National Council of Prison Locals applauds the efforts of both Congressman Weber and Congressman Cartwright in the bipartisan work to support the Correctional Officers and Professionals of the Federal Bureau of Prisons," said the President of the National Council of Prison Locals, Shane Fausey.
The ability to keep workers is often challenged by the competitive nature of a given field. In his statement, Fausey highlighted this fact.
"The common challenge in the nation's federal prison system is the inability to compete in an economic environment, adversely affecting the ability to recruit and retain qualified federal law enforcement officers. Our rural facilities cannot compete with neighboring urban markets and climbing rates of inflation,” said Fausey.
The bill intends to curb the violence and dysfunction that goes on in prisons by properly staffing them
“Elevated rates of prison violence and systemic dysfunction, caused by a staffing crisis of epic proportions, can be curtailed by passing the Pay Our Correctional Officers Fairly Act. The human consequences of the status quo are not acceptable and the American people deserve better."