FORREST CITY, AR –
(WMC-TV) – Most of the employees at the federal prison in Forrest City are working without knowing when they will get a paycheck because of the government shutdown, but some of the inmates who get paid for the work they do inside will have no problem collecting their money.
“It just seems wrong on so many levels,” said Federal prison employee and local union president Jeff Roberts.
Roberts is not getting paid right now even though he goes to work each day. He is one of about 600 workers at the facility impacted by the government shutdown.
“There’s a sense of fear among the employees, they do not want to have to default on a loan or have their credit affected or have a bad name within the community,” said Roberts.
But the prisoners they are guarding are still getting money for landscaping and other work done inside the jail.
“The inmates who have committed the crimes in this country and are incarcerated by violating the laws of common society, they’re not affected by the shutdown, but the employees that we trust to keep our communities safe are,” said Roberts.
Roberts says the inmates are still paid because their money comes out of a trust fund that is not tied to appropriated funds. He hopes leaders in Washington can work out a deal before the problems spill over into town.
“The last thing we need to have is the community have debts that are not being paid, houses not being paid, lights turned off,” said Roberts.
Another prison in Mason, Tennessee that can house federal inmates is not having similar issues because a private company runs it, according to a spokesperson.