The BOP is experiencing a shortfall of trained staff nationwide. This shortage has prompted the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz to call for an increase in trained prison employees because it has been restricting the access of female prisoners to necessary care and services.
“The lack of sufficient staff is most noticeable at larger female institutions,” according to a report written by Horowitz.
For example, it is BOP’s policy that female prison- ers may only be searched by female correctional officers,
“Staff shortages are more complicated with women prisoners because it’s compound- ed when you have male correctional officers in positions where women are required to do the strip searches,” said Kara Gotsch, director of Strategic Initiatives at the Sentencing Project.
Horowitz’s report stated that 90 percent of the female population would benefit from trauma treatment, but the insufficiency of staff makes such treatment virtually impossible.
Staff shortages combined with overcrowding has result- ed in the use of cooks, teachers and civilian employees to perform guard duties.
There are an estimated 7,100 open positions at federal prisons across the country. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has 37,237 civil positions and 19, 073 correctional officers. However, these numbers could be reduced by the Trump administration’s 2019 proposal.
According to Gotsch, however, the best solution to this problem is sentencing reform for women with low-level offenses.
“There is never enough money in the federal budget to adequately care for prisoners if we have significant overcrowding and maintain this high-level of incarceration,” Gotsch said.