Tension Increasing for Federal Prison Employees in Kentucky Working without Pay during Shutdown

Jan 21, 2019

Federal Medical Center, Lexington, Kentucky
Credit Federal Medical Center Lexington / facebook

Workers at federal prisons in Kentucky are among those feeling the financial pressure of the partial federal government shutdown. A nurse who works at a prison in Fayette County said working without pay is raising the level of stress for employees.

Robin Goode works at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington. It’s a prison for about 1,500 male and female inmates who require medical or mental  health care.

Goode is president of Local 817, the local union with about 400 members that’s part of the American Federation of Government Employees.

She said she’s heard a lot of sad stories from prison workers since paychecks were suspended during the shutdown.


“I spoke with an officer just a couple days ago and he has newborn babies and one of them is on special formula that costs $38 every two days. It’s just essentials that families need that you can’t get at food banks,” said Goode.

She said working without pay and not being able to take care of their families is causing increased tension for employees.

“They’re getting really nervous and pretty stressed out about it, on top of working in the stressful environment of a prison,” said Goode.

In addition to law enforcement officers and nurses, federal employees at the Lexington prison include teachers, counselors, secretaries, pharmacists, dentists and physical therapists.

Goode said she and her coworkers need their paychecks to take care of their families and they just want lawmakers to end the shutdown. 

“There’s five federal prisons in the state of Kentucky and that equals thousands of employees under Mitch McConnell in his own state,” said Goode.

The four other federal prisons in Kentucky are in Ashland in Boyd County, Inez in Martin County, Manchester in Clay County, and Pine Knot in McCreary County.