The head of the Bureau of Prisons union has written to President Joe Biden asking him to seriously consider the impact of staffing shortages on the nation’s federal prisons.
“The current staffing shortage within our agency has reached a critical level, placing an unsustainable burden on our current workforce, and putting the safety and security of staff and inmates at risk,” wrote Brandi Moore White, president of Jail Board Local 33. to Biden in a letter obtained by ABC News.
Moore-White represents nearly 30,000 federal correctional employees.
The letter said that the Bank of Palestine had lost 9,000 employees since 2016, which “raised serious concerns about our ability to carry out our responsibilities effectively.”
“These shortages have resulted in increased workloads, mandatory overtime, a practice called surge or reassignment (where non-correctional officers are assigned to perform the duties of a correctional officer and vacate their positions), and increased stress levels for our staff, ultimately jeopardizing the safety and well-being of everyone involved.” .
In addition to staffing levels, “inadequate” pay has become a “major concern” for officers, Moore-White says.
“The current pay structure within the office is significantly lower than that of other federal law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Marshals, Immigration, Customs and Border Patrol,” she said.
She said the pay scale does not compare to state and local law enforcement jobs or jobs in the private sector.
This concern was confirmed by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, who said that one of the main competitors for BOP recruitment is often the local supermarket.
“I urge you to prioritize and address these pressing issues within the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” Moore-White wrote to Biden. “By investing in our employees, you will not only improve the working conditions of thousands of public employees, but you will also strengthen the integrity and effectiveness of our nation’s federal correctional system.”
In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” Postmaster General Colette Peters said she is aware of staffing issues in the federal prison system and is working to address them.
The Bank of Palestine and the White House did not comment on the letter.
This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com