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Prison Employees Picket Citing Dangerous Conditions
Written by Your 5News Team
Last updated on March 21, 2013 @ 6:54PM
Created on March 21, 2013 @ 6:16PM
Earlier this month an automatic $85-billion in spending cuts, better known as the sequester, went into effect. Now we're learning a little more about the impact those cuts will have on our area.
Employees with the federal penitentiary in Preston County have been told they face up to 14 non-paid furlough days due to those spending cuts.
On Thursday the employees from the federal penitentiary in Hazelton were out protesting those cuts along with conditions at the prison.
"The inmates stab each other," AFGE Local 420 President, Jared Henson said. "They make their homemade weapons, and they use them on the staff if they need to."
About 30 employees were out in the bitter cold and the snow to show their displeasure.
"Management continues to turn their heads at the staff assaults," Henson said. "We're over crowded. The inmate discipline process is basically gone."
In late February at USP Canaan, which is about two hours from Hazelton, an officer was brutally murdered by an inmate. According to a press release, Correctional Officer Eric Williams was attacked and killed by an inmate with a homemade weapon. Henson told 5 News that he worries that if conditions don't change he wouldn't be surprised if he's attending a funeral for one of the people involved in Thursday's picket.
"I worry about it everyday," Henson said. "The administration simply turns a blind eye to what occurs in there."
Henson mentioned furloughs, which will be brought on by the sequester, aren't going to help matters. He said the facility is already understaffed.
"On our evening shift there's 130 inmates in a unit with only one officer," Henson said.
Henson said Congress needs to find a solution to the budget battle, and conditions need to change, or else more folks could be put in danger.
"You're talking 30 less staff up there a day," Henson said. "We don't want to see an inmate get out. However, one did get out at a prison in Chicago and that could happen (here)."
5 News reached out to management at the prison, but they didn't respond in time for this report.

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Comments (32)
Mar 30, 2013 at 12:44 AM
Every day prison guards/correctional officers put their lives on the line protecting your sons and daughters, wives, mothers, fathers, and family. Spend one day in their shoes and you will realize what a piece of garbage your are for speaking negatively on them. Yes, working in a prison is dangerous. That appears to be the continuing joke around this page. When an administration does not do what is needed to support staff, putting the safety and security of an institution at risk, this increases the risk. All the negative people out there continue to speak about education, appearance, etc... of the brave staff who took personal time, not duty time, to share issues with the public, need to educate themselves on prisons before opening their mouths. These officers protect you from the people in public you cross the street to avoid and lock the doors on your car when you drive through their neighborhood. This is about everyone's safety, not just the ones in the video. It may just be your life they save someday.
Mar 28, 2013 at 6:03 PM
Next he will be letting released inmates drink on his tab instead of giving them bus fare..What a joke of a CEO!!
Mar 28, 2013 at 2:02 PM
Could be a much safer place if it weren`t being ran from a bar stool!
Mar 28, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Well, who would want to post their real name after the prison employees coming on here and acting irate because we have 'differing' opinions?

You all are sounding like you'd be a real problem with the public after calling us childish names and attacking personally the posters. Yeah, like we'd trust you now. You are your own worst enemy!
Mar 27, 2013 at 8:24 PM
Let me tell all u cowards, who are afraid to post your name, a few things. If any of you knew what really goes on in this prison, you would shut your uneducated mouths. These men and women go to work every day not knowing if they will come home to their families or not. They work to keep ur community safe and yes..they do know the dangers when hiring on but with the management that they have, it is unnecessary dangers that management seems to be turning their heads to. I know for a fact that if something were to happen in this prison that most management would surely hide under their desk or run screaming out the door. There is 1 officer to every 130 inmates and you honestly think their whining. Let's see you go do that job. It's not a money issue because they make enough to support their families and then some. It's a safety issue. When all of u idiots are sleeping soundly in your homes, these officers are protecting your safety. Remember that when your snug in your beds with your loved ones while these officers protect your fat uneducated snobby behinds! Get a life, open your eyes, and stop putting these fine men and women down for a job that I'm positive most of you couldn't do. These officers have never wanted management to cave in..they only want to be safe. All of you need to grow up and how about most of you ignorant people on these blogs..go back to school to learn how to spell,
Mar 27, 2013 at 8:02 PM
Pretty sad, but it is very evident that the management at USP Hazelton have the admin of this site in their pocket. Management is on here be-littling the gaurds, but any negative comments about management wont get approved and posted.
Mar 27, 2013 at 5:09 PM
The best part about all of this is that these guys and gals, showed their faces and aren't hiding behind a computer. March 25 post at 10:46pm, why don't you identify yourself as the BOP Puke Manager that you are. You aren't represented because you can't be represented. I know one of those guys on there personally and he is educated and doesn't need that job. He is financially set with more $$ than most Wardens. Get facts like those guys did and then run your mouths. Until then, hide under the desk, deliver coffee and watch staff get hurt or killed because U chose to be a yes man!!!!
Mar 27, 2013 at 1:57 PM
You all sound just like what you are; the group of organized radical liberals in the country right now that do nothing but whine and complain. If you all had the best job in the world and the best pay in the world and the nicest boss in the would STILL find dozens of other things to moan and groan about. Such little children. Fire them all; replace with folks who WANT to work. These folks don't want to work. They want management to 'cave' in and give them whatever they're little childish hearts desire. They feel "entitled" to everything. Such losers and whiners in this country today. What WILL you do when EVERYTHING collapses? Starve I'm pretty sure since you don't seem adequately educated to support yourselves and move on.
Mar 26, 2013 at 6:01 PM
I commend those that do that work. Unfortunately i worked there from 07 to 09 and that place was a screaming nightmare. The majority of those that work there are very happy people and have a great time after work. I'm in a much better and safer place now. Those guys are far from uneducated. They are very educated in labor laws and put it to the administration for not looking out for staff and failing to keep it safe. If tax payers only knew what management gives convicted felons!! That leader knows his S**T and got me part of a 3 million dollar settlement that he won for union members. Glad to see that he stayed true to the game and wasn't bought by management. All front line staff have my utmost respect. Nothing like having urine and feces thrown on you and management giving that inmate a soda and chocolate bar to calm him down...unreal.. Glad I am my own boss
Mar 26, 2013 at 5:13 PM
First of all, I want to thank the staff at USP Hazelton that stood out there on that cold day to let the community know how the administration has lost control of the institution. I know there are millions of people who do not like Unions and never will and that is okay. However the unions of today are not like that from those in the past that we all have heard about, there is no threats, there is no violence if you do not agree. Most of the BOP Staff have college degrees, most of them in criminal justice. I don't know if it is ignorance or jealous in some of these comments. Yes, the staff that work in prisons do know the dangers that lie in the belly of beast behind the walls. However, it seems that the Federal Government has all but forgotten to update with the times and give the staff what they need to be safe to do there jobs. These inmates are not looked in cells 24 hours a day as many think. It took 2 lives in the past 8 years for them to start giving these officers some mean of defending and protecting themself. If you work a job where you get paid leave, where you get health benefits, and are not forced to work unsafe hours....thank a Unionist they fought for that....if you receive a fair wage for a days pay...Thank a unionist. To the staff at USP Hazelton and the rest of the BOP...don't take these negative comments being left to heart...I am sure you hear far worst on the job....What I saw was nothing but men and women picketing on their own time, remain professional. There was no one on this news broadcast or on WBOY that I saw that was cursing, using any type of Foul language, or being unprofessional. There are two sides to every story and the Adminstration there was given an opportunity and they refused to comment. God keep each and everyone of the men and women who work inside the prison and all law enforcement safe during their tour of duties. I dont think I could do your job and I am glad there are people who do. I know I would not have stood out there in that cold weather unless I felt strong about what was going on....As far as the Leaders comments I am sure that anyone who spoke had to watch what they said not to overstep what they were allowed to say.
Mar 26, 2013 at 4:08 PM
From an outsider looking in, I see both sides here. I didn't hear anything about the dangers of inmates per sey, I am hearing from these union members that management is making it dangerous. There was a sign that read "this administration must go" I clearly believe they know the dangers of working in a prison, it is established that the administration is not doing their part. I have found out that an inmate died in 08 and they got stab vests, i then found out that the officer referenced in this media was murdered and they are now receiving pepper spray. Terrible that 2 lives had to be lost before they could get this simple stuff that they should've had a long time ago. I work as a pipe fitter and i know that some foreman are off the wall. Safety is first and sounds like thats what these guys are fighting for. In another clip on wboy, the leader did state that when staff are hired on they know the dangers, but management puts them in more danger by not holding inmates accountable for their actions due to overcrowding and no where to put inmates...solitary confinement i guess..I see their point and it looked too cold for me..kudos to them
Mar 26, 2013 at 12:12 PM
When you workers start 'attacking' personally those who disagree with you or have opinions/comments that are opposite of what you think; and then you automatically "refer" to them as "those *#@$ republicans....(which is laughable in itself as you don't know my politics or anyone elses)....THAT is THE RED FLAG to me and others that you all are just the same bunch of LEFT LEANING RADICALS like we've seen for the past 5 years protesting on streets of cities all over the USA......whining/complaining about everything from not getting enough food stamps/welfare we demand more minimum wage....and THAT folks is exactly what YOU yourselves have 'shown us about you' all that are picketing. Your own words did you in.
Mar 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM
But how does picketing and being off your job "help" keep the community SAFE?

Use the 'lobbying' method. Politicians are the ONLY way you will get any satisfaction. Ticking off the community does not!
Mar 25, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Ok, so clearly the Bureau of Prison’s staff members involved in this picket are not the most educated or articulate group and they definitely could’ve picked a much better spokesperson to represent their cause. Let’s be clear… they do not represent all BOP employees. It is true that there is an expected level of danger involved with any law enforcement agency. That should not come as a surprise to anyone… law enforcement or otherwise. While these picketers may not be scholars, I am sure they were aware of the danger involved with working in a prison. However, emotions are running high with the two recent murders that have taken place of BOP staff and being told that due to spending cuts they face up to 14 non-paid furlough days. This means less staff and less money to deal with a growing number of inmates. As Correctional Officers, we walk into an unpredictable environment on a daily basis with nothing but keys and a radio. We know there is danger involved, but like anyone that puts their life on the line we want to be appreciated for the job we do. So it is frustrating to hear you may be furloughed, your pay will be affected and by the way you’ll be working with a skeleton crew. I believe the majority of us take pride in our jobs and what we represent and are not “dumb guards”. Not everyone has to agree with our thoughts or opinions on this matter, but I guarantee that if you had a loved one taken in the manner that Correctional Officer Eric Williams was taken from his family, you would feel differently.
Mar 23, 2013 at 7:20 PM
Prison facility.......danger in the job.....kind of simple concept to why didn't you guys? Until now? HEEERE'S....your sign!
Mar 23, 2013 at 7:18 PM
Are ALL these workers that slow at picking up on things? I mean, come on go to work at a PRISON and you just now realized "it's dangerous?" Bwahaha....omg!
Mar 23, 2013 at 7:17 PM
If you're truly a wvrja officer....learn how to spell. Hmm...maybe the upper management is having difficulty reading your paperwork?? Would be a problem. Perhaps that is the real reason for the picketing? So far most on here 'claiming' to work there stink at spelling, language and sentence structure. Starting to see a pattern. Still think they should fire you all. Hire people who WANT to work. How would you all like making minimum wage and no benefits? I know lots of folks who would gladly trade you jobs. And they don't complain at all. They just keep looking for a better job. So....that's what you all should do; find a job that might make you happier. It's obvious this one doesn't. Grow up!
Mar 23, 2013 at 7:12 PM
The left leaning party in this state believe in rights for long as you 'agree' with them. Disagree and they can't handle it. Funny.
Mar 23, 2013 at 7:11 PM
Oh the perils of the left...they 'say' they believe in 'equality' for all, but just opine about something that they don't agree with and this is what you get; childish uneducated intimidation, bullying and unintelligent cursing. Pfft! Your education level's showing guys. Pull up your big boy pants and get to work. It will be alright; the sky is not falling.

By the way...I don't have to support who the left says I have to support. I speak for myself. I think for myself, which is proven here doesn't happen too often these days. Each lefty comment is same boring elementary unclassy, degenerate comments. Your the result of your decisions. If your life is that one's fault but your own.
Mar 23, 2013 at 1:20 PM
I stand 100% behind these officers I work for the wvrja as a officer and I know first hand what they are talking about. First off working as a correctional officer is very stressful bet you didn't know that wv ranks 49th in the lowest paid correctional officers in the US and now they are wanting to take more from us. I think people need to know what they are talking about before they open there mouths!!!
Mar 23, 2013 at 10:21 AM
We all must support these men and women that put their lives at risks everyday working inside those walls. People are free to say whatever they think. That's what's great about being an American. But from your comment , you never walked in their boots because you are clueless. "Sometimes It's better to not say anything and be thought of as a fool. Then opening yours mouth an removing all dout." Maybe you should fine something worth fighting for. God bless.
Mar 23, 2013 at 8:45 AM
You know it's truly sad that people 'try' to blame others for their own mistakes to 'profit' from it and yet blame companies and others for being selfish and greedy and less than moral. Pfft. It's apparent just by listening to the hate-filled, bullying coming from these sort of folks. Their own language and words and actions PROVE it! GIGO; garbage in; garbage out.
Mar 23, 2013 at 8:40 AM
I guess WDTV 'allows' degenerates with bad language to 'attack' other posters they don't agree with, eh?? WDTV you gonna allow me to use same uneducated, disgusting illiterate language too? I might try it and if you don't allow it; complain about your obvious discrimination. After DID monitor and read this clown's illiterate language before posting it on here.
Mar 23, 2013 at 8:37 AM
Oh wow; these people go to a PRISON; seek a job there; then complain it's "dangerous" work? LOL. Really? How long did it take you all to figure out that working with hardened criminals would be a 'dangerous' job? OMG! This bunch needs fired. You can rehire folks who WANT to work!!
Mar 23, 2013 at 8:36 AM
The uneducated people using derogatory (look it up; sure you wouldn't understand the big word)and disgraceful school bully language to get their ignorant point across 'proves' what the rest of us are saying. These people show how disgraceful their characters are just by the unintelligent language they use.

Bitter, angry, unhappy losers because they refuse to do their job, work their way 'up' to a better position. All they do is whine and complain all day long. Getting a little confused about which group whines and is the most disgraceful; the workers at the prison or the prisoners in the cells. Hmm.....
Mar 22, 2013 at 9:27 PM
Well let me start off saying my name is stacy i am not anonymous!I have friends that work at USP Hazelton and they were picketing yesterday because of unsafe work conditions. A correctional officer just lost his life not even a month ago by the hands of inmates i dont see you risking your safety to be locked in a building with dangerous criminals!!!! What gives you the right to judge them and how they do their job?!?!?!?

Furthermore the man giving the interview yesterday is not a bum he has a CAREER that the majority of society does not qualify for!!! Yes, it was cold yesterday and snowing so did everyone have layers of clothing on? Absolutely! I guarantee everyone of those men could take your anonymous butt!!!!!!!!!!! Give everyone of them credit that they were standing up for what they believe is right! Not everyone has the balls to do that and I am proud to say that those men are a part of our community and keep the worst of the worst behind bars where they belong!!!
Mar 22, 2013 at 6:37 PM
Wow, what a joke. I expected more from the federal government, these guys look like local jail guards not federal employees. No wonder the prison has so many problems, how can you respect these slobs. Many federal agencies are affected by the sequester but you don't see them making fools of themselves. Maybe because they are professionals and are educated and tactful? I know a guy that works at Hazelton and he tells me that most of these guys rely on overtime to make their truck and house payments because of their GS 7 and GS 8 low paying jobs. Now that the well has dried up I guess it's the wardens fault. Typical high school grads that discharged from the military just to land a low level crappy fed job. If they don't like it, quit. Lets see how that works for them. I'd say no police department or federal law enforcement agency would want them. My buddy also informed me of how a lot of these want to be cops parade around with cheap badges they buy and try and tell people in the community they are federal law enforcement officers when none of them can enforce federal law, carry a gun outside of the prison or investigate crimes. They all attend a BS three week drunk fest they call training and then think they are special agents. I hope my buddy L quits and gets away from these people. WV didn't need this institution, should have built it 5 miles further east.
Mar 22, 2013 at 12:48 PM
You think that people standing in the freezing cold with snow all over them fighting for what is right, is a disgrace? U are so misinformed that it sounds like you might be a manager or a suck @ss. These people fight for what is right, have backbones and defend themselves and citizens against the most ruthless criminals(and managers) in america. Sounds like people i wouldn't want to tangle with. Watch who you call a bum, im sure he'd love to meet u to discuss that quote. He tells it how it is, fights for those guys standing behind him so I'm sure he is very happy with that kind of support. I'm sure the Warden there would love to hire a yes man such as yourself. You should apply but I doubt u qualify. Testicular fortitude is needed and you have none!!!!
Mar 22, 2013 at 11:36 AM
What a Disgrace you say??? You be the one hidding out in your moms basement if one of those inmates would escape! Grow up you troll and smell the coffee. I showed up as a member of the community. I don't work at the prison, but it concerns me when our safety is at risk! Those officers and employees where really nice guys. Can't imagine standing out in the cold for 10 hours like they did to inform the community. Thank you for keeping our community safe. Les Ryan
Mar 22, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Uh, I call them the exact way they're seen. Today, people refuse to take responsibility for their own unhappiness or situation they're in. You don't like your current job; you find another. And I guarantee you, you will 'still' find something to gripe about at the next one. Chronic complainers and accusers are so common today with this generation. For some reason these group of chronic complainers think every company is responsible for their 'happiness' and should give them everything they desire. No one owes you anything. But you do have the right "yourselves" to change your unhappy getting a job you do like. It's truly sad this generation is so limited on common sense. They're lives are going to get no better until they change their own attitudes. Happiness comes from 'within' not from how much you can intimidate others into 'giving' you. Just look at how the chronic screamers/complainers live. They're never happy, never satisfied, never content with what they have; whereas other folks who make less income and still work in hazardous jobs who do not complain are happier and more adjusted mentally and emotionally. It's really just the difference between 'maturity' and immaturity. Not hard to see the difference!

By the way, anonymous poster who calls me that but doesn't give his own name either....just like you, I, too have a right to post my own opinion. I realize that right of mine irks some folks because they believe only 'they' have that right. Equality, remember??
Mar 22, 2013 at 9:55 AM
You mad bro? Low class is posting anonymously online and making antagonistic remarks to human beings just wanting to do a safe job. You must have been denied a job with BOP??
Mar 21, 2013 at 7:04 PM
What a disgrace. These officers looked like fat unshaven slobs. Do they have to pass a physical? What are the hiring standards? The leader wasn't articulate at all and looked like a bum. The BOP really hires some losers. Maybe they can work as cabbies on their furlough days. No more prisons in WV, low class people for sure.
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