Bill would ensure all Danbury Bureau of Prison employees receive competitive pay
[Hartford, CT] — Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) joined U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) to introduce the Pay Our Correctional Officers Fairly Act to ensure fair pay for Bureau of Prisons (BOP) employees in rural areas.
The bill will help to address staffing shortages at Federal Correctional Institution Danbury (FCI Danbury) by allowing for competitive pay that better reflects the cost of living, commute times, alternative careers, and the hard work and dedication of BOP employees.
FCI Danbury’s General Schedule (GS) pay scale employees receive New York locality pay—a cost of living adjustment that bumps pay to be more competitive with the high cost of living area—but non-GS employees such as maintenance workers, plumbers and housekeepers do not receive this benefit. Because of on-going staffing shortages, many of these staff members are required to carry out the duties of correctional officers and should be compensated as such. The bill would expand access to locality pay for these non-GS employees.
“For years Bureau of Prisons employees in Connecticut have suffered from low wages, and unsustainable working conditions. All workers deserve fair treatment — not just for their sake, but in the public interest. Our bill would pay people fairly and competitively to improve conditions across FCI Danbury,” Blumenthal said.
"This bipartisan congressional act is a significant step in the right direction for correctional workers at FCI Danbury and throughout the United States. Correctional professionals are a vital part of the Justice System and have been overlooked for far too long. We truly appreciate the work that Senators Blumenthal, Cassidy, and Casey are doing to correct these egregious, bureaucratic oversights,” AFGE Local 1661 FCI Danbury said in a statement.
The shortage of correctional officers has grown each year over the past four years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7% decline in correctional officers by 2032. Understaffed prisons and overworked employees have created increasingly dangerous work environments—under current policies, BOP uses cooks, teachers, and nurses to guard inmates when there is a shortage of officers. This temporary fix pulls employees away from their usual duties and negatively impacts incarcerated people by limiting visitations, recreational time, and academic enrichment opportunities.
The bill would address this staffing problem by improving access to locality pay. Locality raises are determined by comparisons of local private sector salary rates, and an individual’s rate is based on where he or she works, not where he or she lives. Places located outside of these locality pay areas are compensated on a lower Rest of US (RUS) pay scale.