WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

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D.C. Corrections Officers Warn Of Security Issues At City Jail

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Corrections officers raised concerns about staffing issues leading to safety problems at the D.C. central jail.
Armando Trull
Corrections officers raised concerns about staffing issues leading to safety problems at the D.C. central jail.

Layoffs and other cost-cutting measures by a private prison company are causing security concerns at D.C.'s jail, staff at the correctional treatment facility told the D.C. Council Thursday. 

'Death trap.' That's the term corrections officer Dana Bushrod used yesterday to describe what it was like at the city's correctional treatment facility on May 13 this year. 

Staff shortages — brought on by massive layoffs — and faulty radio and telephone equipment created a dangerous environment that forced the facility to go on lockdown and had guards leaving units unsupervised for periods of time, Bushrod told the council in her testimony Thursday., 

"It was by the grace of god that we made it through the day without any major incidents," Bushrod said.

Drugs and cellphones are also rampant at the facility but are not being reported to the corporate office or the city's department of corrections," Bushrod added. 

Bushrod was joined by members of several different unions at yesterday's D.C. Council hearing to speak out against the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private company that receives nearly $20 million a year from D.C. to run the facility. 

Complaints were also raised about the CCA contract, the recent layoffs, working conditions and salaries for the officers. 

Neither CCA nor D.C.'s Department of Corrections testified at the hearing. But in a comment after the hearing, a spokesperson for CCA who did not follow the hearing told WAMU the company holds itself to high standards to make sure it runs safe and secure facilities. The correctional company takes concerns from its employees very seriously, the spokesperson added. 

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