CDOC has been recruiting staff from Puerto Rico to fill high vacancies – while this program is an admirable effort to make facilities safer, its execution is problematic.
Puerto Rican staff are continuously being disrespected and discriminated against in BVCF, and this needs to change – for the wellbeing of both staff and inmates.
CDOC is recruiting Puerto Rican correctional staff by offering to aid with relocation expenses, but many still haven’t received reimbursement.
Workers who live within the facility pay CDOC $200 a month to live in small cubicles within the facility. These cubicles offer little privacy, and the privacy they do offer is routinely violated by the Captain.
This includes our male captain entering female living quarters unannounced. Workers get searched more frequently than inmates, who are only searched every quarter.
In addition to these poor living conditions, Puerto Rican staff have also been told they are not allowed to speak Spanish amongst one another in casual conversation. Most Puerto Rican staff can speak some English, but they have a right to speak in the language they are most comfortable with.
Considering part of the reason for recruiting Puerto Ricans was to bring on more staff to work with Spanish speaking offenders, it’s hypocritical to forbid them from speaking Spanish amongst themselves.
We are calling on CDOC to remedy this situation to the best of their ability. There’s nothing wrong with recruiting from out of state to fill crucial positions, but workers should be treated with respect and dignity.
Some aspects of this situation cannot be immediately addressed, like finding new living quarters for Puerto Rican staff. We look forward to working with the department to find a solution, but in the meantime, there are changes CDOC can make.
First and foremost, CDOC supervisors should give workers notice, or at least announce themselves, before searching living quarters.
Additionally, CDOC needs to reevaluate their policies to ensure an equitable work environment for Spanish speaking staff. There are certainly situations where workers must communicate in a language everyone understands, but they have a right to have conversations in the language of their choice.