Gov’t Shutdown Surreality: Federal Prisoners Get Paychecks, Guards Do Not

Today in “What? Wait, what? Why?” federal prisoners receive paychecks. Guards, not so much. This news is brought to you by the government shutdown on 2013.

It’s so bizarre, you can hardly parse it. But it’s true. Roughly 36,000 employees who work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons across the country are required to show up for work without pay, CBS Sioux Falls affiliate KELO-TV reports.

“Basically, we are working right now on an IOU for the government, and we have families to support. We have bills to pay, and we’re expected to be here,” American Federation of Government Employees Local 4040 Union President Michele Kunkel said.

While these workers are expected to get back pay when the shutdown ends, they’ve already gone a week without a paycheck.

“We will get paid eventually, but we don’t know when eventually is, and your creditors aren’t going to take an IOU. We can’t go to the grocery store and buy groceries and give them, ‘Oh, here’s our government IOU,'” Kunkel said.

Meanwhile, inmates performing jobs while in custody get their paychecks every week. “There’s a different funding for them,” Kunkel said of employed inmates.

Kunkel said that prison workers in Yankton are hoping that Congress will solve the shutdown sooner rather that later. While they’ll be paid eventually, going week to week without a paycheck is not an ideal situation, to say the least.

“It gets frustrating when you’ve got a group of individuals sitting in Washington getting paid, and they’re basically doing nothing for us right now,” she said.

Kunkel said that prison workers will show up for work in good faith no matter what. They’re just hoping Congress will do the right thing.

“We just would like to be compensated and have Congress just pass a bill, pass a budget, get us some money. I mean, we can’t operate forever,” Kunkel said.

Kunkel and her husband are both employed at the federal prison camp, so the shutdown is making life incredibly difficult for them.

You can check out a video report on this story below. Do you think that the government shutdown will end soon?

[Image: Shutterstock]