Legislation aimed to protect prison officers, who are often targets of criminals when off duty, has been re-introduced by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey — and “stands a very good chance of passage,” said Shane Fausey, who serves as the Northeast Regional Legislative Coordinator for the Council of Prison Locals 33, in Allenwood.
Fausey, on Monday, said the The Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati Correctional Officer Self-Protection Act has passed through the U.S. House of Representatives and is now in the Senate, where Toomey offered the legislation on May 10. It was originally introduced in 2010.
Ex-convicts, fellow gang members of prisoners, and prisoners’ families and friends will target federal correctional officers, when they are off duty, Fausey said. “That’s what happened to Lt. Albarati, who was assassinated.”
The Justice Department currently makes it impossible for federal correctional officers to protect themselves going to and from work. “We cannot carry our firearms to and from work.”
Osvaldo Albarati, a federal correctional officer in Puerto Rico, paid the price for this policy, Fausey said.
In February 2013, after completing his shift, Albarati, 39, was shot dead while driving on an expressway. Three inmates hired the shooter to murder Albarati. Due to the Bureau of Prisons’ policy, Albarati was unarmed and unable to defend himself.
“Day in and day out correctional officers serve as the front line of defense against some of the most dangerous criminals in the world,” Toomey said in a prepared statement.
“Ensuring that federal correctional officers are able to protect themselves at all times from criminals who wish to harm them is critical and I am calling on Congress to pass this commonsense legislation,” he added.
“Toomey has been our champion on this,” added Darrel Palmer, the northeast regional vice president from USP Cannan. “We deal with the worst of the worst. My colleagues, we need a way to protect ourselves.”
Fausey, who is also the vice president of Voices of Joe, a political advocacy group for the families of corrections workers, is optimistic that the bill could pass before the end of the year.
“I’ve been to Washington talking to legislators about this bill,” he said. “It’s not often you see both sides of the aisle working together on legislation. This truly is a bi-partisan issue, and I’m hopeful the president will sign this when it gets to his desk.”
“The Council of Prison Locals applauds Senator Toomey’s efforts to protect all of the correctional officers and employees,” Fausey said, “Providing safe storage so that employees can protect themselves while commuting to work is imperative to officer safety. Going to and from some of the most dangerous places in the country to work should not have to cost your life. We do not want the tragic assassination of Lieutenant Albarati to ever happen again.”
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