February 8, 2024

Cassidy, Blumenthal, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Give Bureau of Prisons Officers Fair Pay

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Bob Casey (D-PA) today introduced the Pay Our Correctional Officers Fairly Act to ensure fair pay for Bureau of Prisons (BOP) employees in rural areas. The bill will help to address staffing shortages at Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Oakdale in Allen Parish and FCC Pollock in Grant Parish by allowing for competitive pay that better reflects the cost of living, commute times, alternative careers, and the hard work and dedication of BOP employees.

“Bureau of Prisons employees in Louisiana are underpaid and understaffed, leading to exhaustion, fatigue, and increased safety risks,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We cannot allow these conditions to continue to be the norm at FCC Oakdale, Pollock, and elsewhere. Paying people what they’re worth is good for recruitment and good for providing security to prisoners.”

The shortage of correctional officers has grown each year over the past four years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7% decline in correctional officers by 2032. Understaffed prisons and overworked employees have created increasingly dangerous work environments.

FCC Oakdale houses approximately 2,000 federal inmates and faces unsustainably low staffing levels. These vacancies force FCC Oakdale to rely on mandatory overtime and using support staff to guard inmates just to meet the basic safety needs of its mission. FCC Pollok is facing similar shortages.

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Randy Weber (R-TX-14), Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08), and a group of 29 members. Click here to read a one-pager on the bill. 


Under current policies, BOP uses cooks, teachers, and nurses to guard inmates. This temporary fix pulls employees away from their usual duties and negatively impacts inmates by limiting visitations, recreational time, and academic enrichment opportunities.

BOP employees are usually paid on the General Schedule (GS) pay scale, with slight pay modifications for correctional officers. Locality raises are determined by comparisons of local private sector salary rates, not by cost of living. An individual’s rate is based on where he or she works, not where he or she lives. Places located outside of these locality pay areas are compensated on a lower Rest of US (RUS) pay scale.

Cassidy has urged the BOP to address staffing shortages in the past, highlighting the challenges at FCC Oakdale in 2022 and calling for staffing increases at both Oakdale and Pollock.