97% of federal prison workers waiting for pay

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MILAN, Mich. (WTVG) -- Employees at the federal prison in Milan, MI, are feeling the pinch.

They have not gotten paychecks since before Christmas.

Effects of the partial government shutdown are spilling over the prison walls, and into stores such as Milan City Market, which relies on customers who work at the prison.

One shopper empathizes with the plight of those workers who are waiting for back pay and upcoming payroll.

"I think everybody should take a wage freeze. If they're going to freeze the regular employees, and they're the ones really suffering," said Reuben Torres, who lives in California.

Dorothy Hall considers the situation strictly political, adding, "If the Democrats have did what they were supposed to do, he wouldn't have had to shut down the wall. (The president) wouldn't need to shut down the government."

In a statement, the Federal Bureau of Prisons explains:

"During a shutdown, funds are not available through an appropriations law or continuing resolution to allow agencies to operate. Only employees who perform "excepted" functions (i.e., whose duties involve the safety of human life or the protection of property) or whose salaries are paid from other than FY19 annual appropriations are permitted to work. In the BOP's case, institution personnel are excepted employees, including those at Milan. Excepted employees will be paid for work performed after Congress passes and the President signs a new appropriation or continuing resolution. Of the total number of BOP staff on board (36,361), 35,287 - or approximately 97% are excepted.

At BOP institutions, ordinary operations are continuing during the lapse, including mental health services and counseling, inmate programming, medical treatment, releases, etc."

Many employees inside the Federal Correction Institution in Milan may still be waiting for paychecks, but one aspect that has not changed is the danger of the job itself.

Last week, the accused ring leader in a child pornography case, Christian Maire, 40, of New York, was beaten and stabbed to death by other inmates here. The Associated Press reports two staff members were also hurt.

That violence underscores a sometimes intense work environment where employees are now anxiously awaiting their pay.