Congressman Tom Marino has been a friend to law enforcement and a supporter of correctional officers at federal prisons ever since he served as United States Attorney for the middle district of Pennsylvania. Since being elected to Congress in 2010, Mr. Marino has taken the lead to ensure that law enforcement officers in every capacity have the necessary tools to perform their duties adequately and safely.
We were all devastated by the loss of our colleague and friend, Eric Williams. And while advocates like Mr. Marino have been calling for improved safety conditions since 2011 when he directly questioned Attorney General Holder about a pilot program allowing guards to carry pepper spray, increased awareness of the dangers we face on a daily basis are made more apparent to those on the outside.
It is unfortunate that it takes a tragedy like the death of a friend and colleague for people across the country to understand the dire situation facing correctional officers every day. Mr. Marino, however, was well aware of our situation, having visited the federal prisons in his district and meeting with the correctional officers regularly.
Those of us at U.S.P. Canaan have come to expect this level of commitment and support from Tom Marino, as was evident when the congressman sent a letter to the Bureau of Prisons Director as well as the Attorney General. We believe this letter aided the funding needs of the Bureau and prevented eminent furloughs. Had these furloughs gone into effect, up to 32 correctional workers would be removed from duty every day until September, placing even more challenges on an already understaffed prison.
Mr. Marino has always considered the effects legislation will have on federal correctional officers, and he continues to work to raise awareness to the challenges we face amid a growing prison population and a need for additional resources.
We have recently seen an effort in the press by a few misguided individuals to attack Tom Marino and question his support for correctional officers. It is unfortunate that people chose to use this difficult time for the federal correctional officer community to score cheap political points against Mr. Marino. Instead of playing politics, we need to use this time to come together and work to solve some of the major safety issues at our federal prisons.
Bill Gillette, former Vice President for the Council of Prisons
Darrell Palmer, President of Local 3003 at USP Canaan
Phil Glover, Vice President for the Council for Prisons