Union, family blame death at federal prison on guard shortage

As Jose Rivera's friends and family mourn a brother, a son and a Navy veteran, union officials are blaming high inmate-to-guard ratios for the correctional officer's death.

Rivera, 22, had worked at U.S. Penitentiary Atwater in Atwater, Calif., less than a year. He died Friday afternoon after two inmates attacked and stabbed him with a homemade shank.

In a statement issued Monday, union officials said inadequate staffing at the federal prison has left its correctional officers "in grave danger."

"We can no longer turn a blind eye to the critical situation inside our nation's federal prisons," said Bryan Lowry, president of the The Council of Prison Locals of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents federal correctional officers. "What happened to Jose Rivera sends a clear message that now is the time for change."

Authorities at the prison have refused to answer basic questions about what happened, including how many times Rivera was stabbed, where in the prison he was attacked, the names of the inmates suspected or how many other correctional officers were on duty at the time.

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