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Federal prisoners are paid while their guards aren't

By Jonathan Petramala, Weekend Evening Anchor/Reporter, jonathan.petramala@krdo.com
Published On: Oct 11 2013 12:18:11 AM CDT

The shutdown is forcing federal correction officers to work without pay.

FLORENCE, Colo. -

Nestled near Florence, the Florence Federal Correctional Complex is manned 24-hours a day.  But for nearly two weeks since the federal government shutdown, the guards who keep some of the nations most dangerous criminals and terrorists behind bars haven't been paid.

 "Everyone out there is not getting paid...except for the inmates," said Barbara Batulis, the union president for the Local 1400 FCI Florence.

 Inmates are paid from a trust fund, not affected by the shutdown.  Some make as little as $5.25 per month, others a couple hundred dollars depending on their job.  So far they've made more than their guards this month, and they aren't letting them forget it.

 "They make little comments like hey, how's it working for free today  Or, thanks for doing your community service and volunteering," Batulis said.

 Correction officer Ted Word says his wife who also works for the federal government, are starting to have to make tough choices.

 "We're fixing to make some hard decisions.  Is it the electric bill or is it the water bill, how much do we send to the mortgage, do we pay the car payment?" Word said.

 Even if they are able to find a second job for emergency money, correction officers still might not be able to take it.

 "We still have to get approval from management to get second jobs and sometimes they're being granted, sometimes they're not," Batulis said.

 Morale is rock bottom as officers feel as trapped as the prisoners behind bars.

 "Am I going to walk off, no I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing...it's just tough without getting paid," Word said.

 While corrections officers struggle, they blame politicians who are still getting paid.

"Because President Obama is the one in charge, he's getting the blame, the majority of the blame anyway," Batulis said.

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