Joe Rojas, a spokesperson for the AFGE Council of Prisons union, said Tippett had been under investigation due to an inmate allegation. The Bureau of Prisons would not discuss the details of that allegation, but a year previous a group of 15 women prisoners had filed a federal lawsuit accusing guards of sexually assaulting them at the women’s camp attached to Coleman. Court records show that at least a half-dozen guards had admitted being involved in the abuse that had taken place over several years.
Although no one is allowed to bring guns into the prison, the union has pushed for guards to be able to keep firearms in their vehicles as a measure of protection while commuting to the job in uniform.
Tippett, who had worked at Coleman for around seven years, has been part of an upward trend in guard suicides exacerbated by the pandemic.
“The job within itself is stressful, and then you put COVID on top of it,” said Rojas, “it’s an extremely difficult situation for the staff.”
A study by the University of California-Berkeley found that guards run a high risk of developing depression, thoughts of suicide, and post-traumatic stress-disorder. These risks have only increased as coronavirus outbreaks raised tensions inside prisons and forced staff to work mandatory overtime.
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