Nurses, cooks enlisted as guards
Prison officer shortage puts staffers at risk
When Kristan Morgan joined the U.S. Bureau of Prisons three years ago, the 30-year-old nurse expected to spend her days caring for the chronically sick and injured inside the nation’s largest correctional system.
What she didn’t expect: Being abruptly plucked from the busy medical unit in Tallahassee to pull guard duty in cell blocks — including a wing for solitary confinement.
“We get a radio and set of keys, and we don’t know which keys fit which doors,” said Morgan, who often reports to guard duty in scrubs and running shoes because there are no extra officer uniforms.
Hundreds of secretaries, teachers, counselors, cooks and medical staffers were tapped last year to fill guard posts across the Bureau of Prisons because of acute officer shortages and overtime limits, according to prison records reviewed by USA TODAY and staff interviews.
The moves were made despite repeated warnings that the assignments placed unprepared employees at risk. And the practice has continued for