PORTLAND, Ore. — Thousands of federal prison guards across the country are working without a paycheck for the fourth week in a row because of the shutdown.
A KGW News viewer emailed us asking if we could Verify that federal prisoners are getting paid during the shutdown, while correctional officers are working without a paycheck.
Our source for this story is a spokesperson with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, DC.
Federal Correctional Institution Sheridan, which is located about an hour southeast of Portland, is among dozens of federal prisons nationwide where approximately 60,000 inmates work under UNICOR, or Federal Prison Industries.
Sheridan is the only federal prison in the Pacific Northwest with the program.
Nationwide, their jobs range from working call centers and sewing clothing to refurbishing cars and welding. At Sheridan, inmates work on “electronics and fleet solutions.”
According to the UNICOR website, the inmates get paid once a month, with an hourly rate between 23 cents to $1.15.
Inmates receive about 4 cents of each dollar of sales revenue, and often, the money they earn is used to pay court-issued fines, child support and victim restitution.
Inmates in Sheridan are paid from “non-appropriated funds” from Federal Prison Industries or from the inmate Trust Fund. Officials say the staff working for UNICOR is also being paid through the shutdown.
We can Verify: Inmates who work for UNICOR at Sheridan and other federal prisons are being paid throughout the shutdown, while federal prison guards are working without pay.
Earlier this month, KGW News spoke with two correctional officers who work at Sheridan.
Travis Ray has worked at Sheridan for 9 years. His job comes with dangers and expects them, but they normally come with the paycheck.
"Now, I get to look forward to coming to work, possibly being assaulted and not being paid for it. We might be paid eventually, but it's not a guarantee," Ray said.
Nathaniel Weber has been working with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for 6 years. He's a single father of an 11-year-old girl.
"I feel that the livelihood of any American, but the livelihood of federal government workers and those that put their lives at risk every day to protect the public should never be used as a political bargaining chip. We're not leverage for a partisan issue," Weber said.