Society

Wisconsin Federal Prison Guards Furloughed Without Pay During Government Shutdown, While Inmates Continue To Be Paid

| by Will Hagle

The provisions of the current government shutdown come with a lengthy, confusing list of “essential” and “non-essential” branches of the government, with the essential ones continuing work and the non-essential ones being told to stay at home. Some government employees are also currently working without pay. That includes guards at federal prisons, who are required to show up to work even though their paychecks will be kept on hold until those in Congress can resolve their issues. 

Inmates that have jobs in prison, however, continue to be paid. 

The leader of a Wisconsin-based prison guard union expressed his feelings about the current government shutdown, which is drastically affecting him and his fellow employees’ pay. “A lot of us are concerned about how we’re going to come into work next week ... and how are we going to pay our bills. Just because we’re federal employees, we still live paycheck to paycheck,” Dauman told Fox19. 

Dauman explained the role that prison guards pay within the federal government, which basically considers them essential enough to go to work, but not essential enough to get paid for that work. “We are what they consider exempted employees, and those employees have to come to work. So we have to come to work, and we are not getting paid until the government passes a budget,” Dauman said.

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The funding for working inmates’ paychecks comes from a different source than that of the prison guards. Wisconsin only has one federal prison, and it employees a staff of 300 people. The union of prison guards which Dauman represents is one of the largest groups being directly affected by the current government shutdown. 

Dauman is not amused by the back-and-forth games currently being played by the government, which are having a direct effect on working individuals. “I blame Congress. I think there’s a simple solution — even a continued resolution for 90 days — then they could talk about Affordable Healthcare and whatever else,” Dauman said. 

The shutdown continues as those in the House of Representatives and the Senate are unwilling to compromise over spending issues relating to the Affordable Care Act, bt House Speaker John Boehner has declared that he’s willing to compromise in order to avoid a budget default that would occur on October 17th if the two sides are unable to work together in order to raise the deficit ceiling.