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06.13.22

WASHINGTON – US Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) and the Louisiana congressional delegation have urged the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to address staffing shortages and roles at the Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Oakdale in the Parish from Allen.

FCC Oakdale houses approximately 2,000 federal inmates and faces unsustainable staffing levels that are approaching crisis. There are approximately 116 vacancies, including 65 vacancies for corrections staff, at the facility. These vacancies require FCC Oakdale to rely on mandatory overtime in order to meet the basic security needs of its mission.

“Using mandatory overtime and pay raises as a solution to chronic staff shortages is a dangerous practice. These practices lead to exhaustion, fatigue and apprehension among FCC Oakdale employees. Unfortunately, these solutions are increasingly becoming the norm at FCC Oakdale and elsewhere,” write the lawmakers.

“As concerned members of the Louisiana delegation, we are writing to inquire about steps the Bureau of Prisons plans to take to maintain adequate staffing levels at FCC facilities in Oakdale. We ask that you consider using existing authorities, such as the ability to provide retention bonuses, which will retain staff on board and allow FCC Oakdale to attract additional staff needed to perform critical staffing functions” , lawmakers continued.

The delegation’s request would not require any additional funding, as the BOP already has funds that could be used to support safety by providing retention bonuses to Oakdale staff.

Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) and Representatives Steve Scalise (R-LA-01), Mike Johnson (R-LA-04), Julia Letlow (R-LA-05), Clay Higgins (R-LA-03 ), Garret Graves (R-LA-06) and Troy Carter (D-LA-02) also signed the letter.

Read the full letter here or below.

Dear Director Carvajal,

Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Oakdale is a federal prison complex located in rural Louisiana. FCC Oakdale includes two low-security facilities and a minimum-security satellite camp, totaling approximately 2,000 federal inmates. FCC Oakdale employees do the important work of correctional officers, counselors, teachers, medical personnel, and more. The actions of correctional and non-correctional employees are essential to the safe and orderly operation of a federal prison complex such as FCC Oakdale.

Unfortunately, FCC Oakdale is facing unsustainable staffing levels that are approaching crisis. There are currently 116 vacancies at FCC Oakdale, including 65 vacancies for corrections personnel. These vacancies require FCC Oakdale to rely on mandatory overtime in order to meet the basic security needs of its mission. FCC Oakdale also engages in augmentation – asking staff to complete the duties and responsibilities of a position for which they were not hired. This practice often results in non-custodial staff, such as teachers, counselors, and administrators, performing the duties of a correctional officer or other child care personnel.

Using mandatory overtime and pay raises as a solution to chronic staff shortages is a dangerous practice. These practices lead to exhaustion, fatigue and apprehension among FCC Oakdale employees. Unfortunately, these solutions are increasingly becoming the norm at FCC Oakdale and elsewhere.

Staffing conditions at FCC Oakdale understandably forced many veteran personnel to actively seek opportunities for promotion or transfer to other federal correctional facilities and agencies, or even retire, if eligible. . FCC Oakdale’s reduced workforce and continued reliance on mandatory overtime and pay raises will encourage staff to retire, resign and seek alternate employment. Without correction, staffing shortages and security issues at FCC Oakdale will only worsen.

As concerned members of the Louisiana delegation, we are writing to inquire about what steps the Bureau of Prisons plans to take to maintain adequate staffing levels at FCC Oakdale. We ask that you consider using existing authorities, such as the ability to provide retention bonuses, which will retain staff on board and allow FCC Oakdale to attract additional staff needed to perform critical staffing functions. The incentive to retain and hire additional employees will reduce FCC Oakdale’s reliance on mandatory overtime and facilitate augmentation practices, which impede FCC Oakdale’s ability to meet its legally mandated programming requirements under the law. First Step Act of 2018 and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020. We respectfully request that you respond to this request by detailing the steps the Office will take to address this very serious issue.

We remain ready to work together to improve employee retention and safety at FCC Oakdale. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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