by: Tom Regan Updated:
ATLANTA - Correctional officers at the U.S. Penitentiary Atlanta told Channel 2 Action News that while they are not receiving a paycheck during the partial government shutdown, inmates they supervise are being compensated for chores and prison industry work.
"We have inmates, right there in the units, as orderlies, they're still getting paid but we're not getting paid," federal corrections officer Ronoma Rembert told Channel 2's Tom Regan.
The sprawling prison complex on McDonough Boulevard employs over 300 guards and other prison staff. More than 2,000 inmates are housed in the prison, including both violent and non- violent offenders.
"Murderers, bank robbers, any type of inmate that's been locked up, we have in this institution," said corrections officer Kelvin Williams.
Williams, who is also president of the local union that represents federal correctional officers, told Regan if the government shutdown is prolonged, he fears he will have difficulty supporting his wife and three children.
"Bills still keep coming in, mortgage needs to be paid. I don't know how I'm going to feed my family and keep the roof over my head and the lights on," Williams said.
The guards are confident that they will receive back pay once the government shutdown is lifted. In the meantime, they are living on a federal IOU, which they said doesn't go far at the grocery store or gas station.
"Our backs are up against the wall and Congress is using us as pawns basically to get their agendas passed and we don't like it," corrections officer Vance Bryant told Regan.