So, the federal government has shutdown. What does that mean for federal prisoners? On Monday, the Department of Justice announced its contingency plan:
Bureau of Prisons: All staff at the Federal prisons, including Public Health Service Officers necessary to provide medical care of inmates, are considered excepted since they have direct daily inmate custody responsibilities. Employees are also needed to continue inmate custody responsibilities over some 38,700 inmates in contract facilities and process all new designations to federal prisons from the Courts. Regional and headquarters support will be maintained only to the extent necessary to support excepted operations. BOP’s Buildings and Facilities, Prison Industries and Commissary accounts have multi-year authority and should have adequate carry over funding to meet expenses during a lapse in appropriations.
What does this mean? First, while the Regional Offices and Central Office reportedly have skeleton staffs, federal correctional institutions are at (or near) full operating strength. However, even though prison personnel are expected to show for work (and will not be paid for days they don’t work), their pay will likely be delayed, perhaps for the duration of the shutdown. Said differently, BOP personnel, as Executive Branch employees, are working for IOUs.