Tensions rise in federal prisons as weary guards go without pay, work double shifts

Prison guard Brian Shoemaker was patrolling the halls of Lee penitentiary in southwestern Virginia Friday when an inmate tried to squeeze past him into a restricted area. Seconds after Shoemaker told the prisoner to turn around, the inmate lunged at him, punching him in the shoulder.
Shoemaker did not sustain a major injury. But it did not escape him that he is working without a paycheck at one of the most dangerous federal jobs in America during the partial government shutdown. Fears for his other prison staff members’ safety are escalating as 16-hour shifts become routine as a growing number of guards call in sick in protest or to work side jobs to pay their bills.

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