Death of prison guard spurs national campaign

The stabbing death of a U.S. Penitentiary Atwater correctional officer has sparked a national campaign to overhaul failed safety policies across the federal prison system.

On Thursday, USA Today ran a full-page advertisement featuring a photo of the slain correctional officer, Jose Rivera, and an open letter from his family blaming overcrowding and inadequate protections inside the penitentiary for his death.

"Jose was taken from us because of the situation inside federal prisons today," stated the ad, which was paid for by the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that represents federal correctional officers. "Overcrowding, underfunding and depriving our officers of the tools they need to defend themselves will only lead to more violence and more lives lost ... When will the Justice Department take action? Do more correctional officers have to die?"

Rivera, a 22-year-old Navy veteran who had worked at USP Atwater less than 11 months, died June 20 after he was attacked by two inmates wielding handmade shanks.

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