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Violence Increases in Fed Prisons

BOP records show an increase of violence at the five older U.S. Penitentiaries at Atlanta, Leavenworth, Lewisburg, Lompoc and Terre Haute. Statistics from the two newer prisons at Florence and Allenwood are not yet available.

BOP records show that prisoner assaults on guards increased 11% in 1994 over the previous year. Prisoner on prisoner assaults increased a reported 28.5%. Ten prisoners were killed in assaults at the five prisons in 1994, compared to a total of nine during the previous two years. One BOP guard was killed in Atlanta, the first such killing in seven years.

Donald Tucker, president of the council of prison locals of the American Federation of Government Employees, attributes the increased violence to under staffing. According to BOP records, however federal prison staff have increased from 23,913 in 1992 to 26,265 late last year. And BOP projections call for a further increase to 40,000 staff by the year 1999.

Greg Bogdan, a spokesman for the BOP said that the reason there is more violence is because there are more prisoners. The total Federal prison population increased from 63,930 in 1991 to 85,540 last year.

Although the construction of new prisons in Florence and Allenwood have reduced overcrowding, the system is still operating at 126 percent of capacity. Atlanta and Lewisburg are both at 143 percent of capacity.

Kevin Wright, a criminal justice professor at Binghamton University in New York said the combination of long sentences and no parole is a cause of the violence. AAs you start to lose hope, the rules of the game change, and inmates have less incentive to behave themselves, he said. AThe removal of good time and parole have really been a significant change for [BOP] prisons.

Bogdon, while down playing the idea that BOP prisons are understaffed, said, AObviously, anyone working in corrections, regardless of the security level of the inmates, is at some risk because you're dealing with people who don't want to be there.

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