BIG SPRING, Texas, March 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- This week the second inmate charged with assaulting Correctional Officer Richard Hunt at Federal Correctional Institution Big Spring was found guilty of Assaulting/Impeding a Federal Officer while in the Performance of Official Duties, less than a week after the first inmate pleaded guilty to the same charges.
"Thank you to the Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) for prosecuting the assault of a federal officer in the line of duty," said American Federation of Government Employees Local 3809 President Paula Chavez. "Our sisters and brothers risk their lives so our communities can know peace, and it's good to know that inmates who assault our officers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
On May 30, 2018, Hunt, who serves as AFGE Local 3809 Sergeant at Arms, was conducting rounds when he discovered inmate Reshay Moses Leal using a contraband cell phone in his cell.
As Hunt looked down at the phone, Leal jumped on top of Hunt and then slammed him into the wall between two bunks. Although gravely outnumbered, Hunt recognized the importance of securing the evidence of the contraband and in his attempts to retrieve the cell phone was also assaulted by inmate Jeffrey Raul Murrietta. Both inmates subsequently circled Hunt in preparation of another assault before responding officers arrived to break up the incident.
"Officer Hunt was outnumbered and his life was in peril while simply trying to do his job, all because the Federal Bureau of Prisons continues to short-staff our facilities," said AFGE Council of Prison Locals Regional Vice President Clifton Buchanan. "FCI Big Spring has more than 46 current vacancies, and is not even at 80 percent in custody staffing. And rather than hire the officers we need, BOP continues to use augmentation – which clearly is not working."
"This assault highlights our need for proper staffing immediately," added Buchanan.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has been dealing with staffing shortages since at least 2015. The situation was exacerbated when the Trump administration decided in January 2018 to cut 6,000 positions nationwide – including 25 at FCI Big Spring. For years, the agency has dealt with the staffing shortages of correctional officers by "augmenting" teachers, secretaries, nurses, and other support staff to step in and help guard inmates, creating even greater security risks.
"Sadly, the assault on Officer Hunt is just one of many we see in the federal prison system every year," said Buchanan. "The AUSA must commit to prosecuting all inmates that assault staff behind these prison walls and fences just as they would if they were on the street assaulting other law enforcement officers."
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, including 33,000 at the Federal Bureau of Prisons
SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees