Look into your closet or slide open a drawer and you’ll likely spot them: a pair of jeans here; a white T-shirt there; a set of sneakers or a baseball cap tucked into a corner.

They could be thrifted, bought in bulk, or hand-crafted by a high-end designer; maybe you wear them to do yard work, maybe they’re nice enough for the office — or maybe they’re collector’s items reserved for special occasions.

Regardless of how you wear them, what those items all have in common is that they have a long history in the United States, helping to shape what we think about when we think of American style.

“American style is accessibility,” says Nancy Deihl, a costume studies professor at New York University and the co-author of “The History of Modern Fashion.” “It’s something that everyone can participate in. It can be a look, but I think it’s also a feeling; this belief, really, in that everyone has the ability or the opportunity to be stylish.”

It’s impossible (not to mention pointless) to try to think of a single “look” as being representative of an entire nation. Instead, says Emma McClendon, an associate curator of costume at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, American style is less about a particular outfit and more about individualism.

“It’s an attitude toward clothing, and what you want out of your clothing,” McClendon says. “There is something in America that puts an emphasis on functional clothing that’s going to work with your lifestyle, whatever that lifestyle may be. It’s still about aesthetic, but the way that it’s made, the way that it fits, the way that it wears on your body has an ease, a function, and a comfort to it that allows you to do what you want to do.”

Here, we take a look at the rise of seven items that, through their flexibility, have become classic style staples in the United States.

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“We’re being told to stand our ground. Our reporting is going to be borne out to be accurate, and we’re 100% behind it,” investigative reporter Anthony Cormier told CNN’s Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources” Sunday.
Cormier was joined by BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith on “Reliable.”
The pair defended a story published on Thursday that said President Donald Trump directed his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a potential hotel construction project in Moscow. The information was attributed to two unnamed “federal law enforcement officials” involved in the investigation.
Cormier, who wouldn’t reveal his sources when asked, said the story had been in the works for months and went through a “rigorous” vetting process. The story was reviewed by at least three editors, Smith said.
But Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement that challenged the accuracy of the report, but didn’t provide details.
“Buzzfeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Peter Carr, a spokesperson for Mueller’s office, said in a statement that came out hours after BuzzFeed’s story was published.
Smith said BuzzFeed is “eager” to understand which parts of the report Mueller’s office is challenging as inaccurate. He said BuzzFeed reporter Jason Leopold, who coauthored the story, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for details on how the statement from Mueller’s office was constructed.
Stelter on Sunday also pressed Cormier and Smith on whether BuzzFeed had done enough to seek comment or guidance for the story from Mueller’s office before publishing the report.
Leopold, who has a checkered reporting past, sent an email to Carr, Mueller’s spokesperson .
“Anthony [Cormier] and I have a story coming stating that Michael Cohen was directed by President Trump himself to lie to Congress about his negotiations related to the Trump Moscow project,” the email read. “Assume no comment from you but just wanted to check.”
Carr replied, “Thanks, Jason. We’ll decline to comment.”
The Washington Post reported Saturday that Mueller’s office was then blindsided by details in the BuzzFeed report, including the assertion that Cohen told the special counsel that Trump instructed him to lie to Congress.
Stelter said he thought Leopold’s email was a “shockingly casual” way to request comment for such an explosive report.
“There’s a dereliction of duty to send a three-sentence email for comment,” Stelter said.
He added that for major stories, it’s customary for reporters to send sources a detailed list of the facts that the reporter planned to include.
Smith said that he thought Leopold’s email stated “the heart of the story” and added that BuzzFeed has for months been at the forefront on reporting about Trump’s business ties to Moscow.
“It has not been our experience that the special counsel is forthcoming with information,” Smith said.
Journalist Carl Bernstein, a CNN political analyst, told Stelter on Sunday that he thought it was “going to take time before we fully understand what the exact truth is here.”
“We don’t know where we are with this story right now,” he said.
Bernstein defended coverage of the BuzzFeed report by other news organizations. “We had to report it and attribute it to BuzzFeed, and as I said on our air, we don’t know whether or not this story is accurate, contextual, true, and it needs to be run down,” he said.

Well now we have an update on the adorable trio. Sea Life Aquarium has just announced that the beloved penguin chick born in October — known as Baby Sphengic — is female.

“We’ve loved how engaged and interested the visitors from all over the world are, having followed the love story of Sphen and Magic,” Laetitia Hannan, penguin keeper at the aquarium, tells CNN Travel.

“Backup” penguin chick

Baby-Sphengic-with-Sphen-and-Magic

Baby Sphengic with Sphen and Magic.

Courtesy SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Sphen and Magic — AKA Sphengic — are two male gentoo penguins who became inseparable last year, right before breeding season.

Visitors would often spot the pair waddling around and going for swims together, which was why they were deemed to be suitable prospective parents.

When another penguin couple laid two eggs, Sphengic was entrusted to hatch the “backup” egg.

It’s common for gentoo penguins to lay two eggs each breeding season, but the sub-Antarctic penguins usually only have enough resources to incubate and raise a single egg, so the “backup” chick may not survive.

Not in this case — on October 19, 2018, an adorable 91-gram penguin chick was born to the doting penguin parents.

Non-defined gender roles

Baby-Sphengic-1

Baby Sphengic has mastered the art of diving.

Courtesy SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

It’s important for the keepers at the aquarium to know the gender of each penguin for population management, explains Hannan.

It takes experts a couple of months — and a blood test — to determine the gender of a penguin, as the sexes closely resemble one another.

But in the penguin world, gender roles aren’t defined and parents share equal responsibilities when it comes to maintaining nests and raising the young.

The three-month-old is now a fully-fledged bird and, adorably, is receiving swimming lessons. She’s already learned to dive.

“One of the most important things when baby penguins are learning how to swim is for them to get used to having their heads underneath the water so that they can see.” says Hannan.

Turns out Baby Sphengic has a healthy appetite, too.

“The chick was born at just 91 grams — which is less than an apple — and now weighs just over 5 kilograms — the size of a watermelon — so Baby Sphengic clearly loves food,” says Hannan.

The penguin consumes about 800 grams of food daily, which is 20% of her body weight.

As for her name — Baby Sphengic’s more of a nickname. Don’t worry, staff at Sea Life Sydney say they are currently considering what she should be called.

“Baby Sphengic will be an ambassador for the species who are facing global threats such as global warming and plastic pollution and we look forward to sharing more updates with you in the coming months,” adds Hannan.

David Eulitt/Getty Images

Two of our three analysts couldn’t bring themselves to ride with the Patriots on the road against a team that seems to have their number. 

“Yes, I’m picking against both of my preseason Super Bowl picks,” Davenport said. “After last week, I figure my best bet is to pull a Costanza and do the opposite of what I think I should do. Or it could just be that I don’t trust the Patriots away from Gillette Stadium. The Pats were undefeated at home this year, but they were 3-5 away from Foxborough. They’re also just 3-4 on the road in the playoffs with Brady under center, they’ve lost the last three AFC title games they played on the road and the home team is 11-1 over the last 12 AFC Championship Games.

“The Chiefs won’t play as well defensively as they did last week, but they are a much better defensive team at Arrowhead this year than away from it. Since it’s going to be colder than Darth Hoodie’s soul on Sunday night, we probably aren’t going to see the 83 total points we got when these teams met back in Week 6. What we are going to see is the final step of Patrick Mahomes’ coronation as the league’s MVP and a close win by the home team.”

How much better is the Kansas City defense at home? The Chiefs have allowed 34.6 points per game and recorded 10 takeaways on the road this year, but at Arrowhead, they have 18 takeaways and allowed only 17.4 points per game. That’s tied for the third-lowest mark in the NFL, and it’s part of the reason Gagnon is reluctantly joining Davenport on Team Chiefs. 

“I’m reluctant to pick against the Patriots,” Gagnon said, “especially when they’re getting points. Kansas City has a strong enough defensive front to get to Brady, which is the key to beating New England in January, but that might not matter because Brady gets the ball out so damn fast. And the Patriots have had a lot of trouble with Tyreek Hill’s speed (he has 275 receiving yards and four touchdowns in two career meetings with the Pats), but the Patriots aren’t as slow on defense as they were before Jason McCourty came on board and J.C. Jackson emerged. Plus, Bill Belichick is the ultimate adjuster.

“But Kansas City nearly beat the Patriots in Foxborough earlier this season, and the site is everything here since the Chiefs are tremendous at home and the Patriots have never been particularly special outside of New England. Kansas City might also have Berry back on defense and Duvernay-Tardif and Ware back on offense. That should be just enough to pull this out, but the push is a strong possibility.”

But again, there’s no unanimity here. Sobleski likes one particular matchup advantage for a Patriots team that has been here, done this. 

“Even if Kansas City gets caught in an arctic blast, Mahomes is going to get his,” he said. “Brady will as well. One particular matchup favors New England, though. The Patriots own the league’s best offensive interior. The group dominated the Los Angeles Chargers at the point of attack and provided Brady with plenty of time to throw. The Chiefs create pressure better than any other team, yet their defense isn’t nearly as effective if it isn’t placed in favorable down-and-distance situations. Meanwhile, Bill Belichick’s defense will be well-prepared and do everything in its power to confuse Mahomes. Experience matters.”

In Sobleski’s defense here (and Davenport’s defense above), it’s worth noting that those among this group who have picked against the majority as lone wolves are 66-61-1 this year.

Predictions
Davenport: Chiefs 24, Patriots 20
Gagnon: Chiefs 30, Patriots 26
Sobleski: Patriots 27, Chiefs 23
Consensus: Kansas City (-3)

Cardi B and conservative commentator Tomi Lahren are taking shots at each other on Twitter over the government shutdown and the border wall.
It started when the Bronx rapper posted an expletive-laden video on Instagram dragging President Donald Trump over his administration’s decision to order furloughed employees back to work without pay.
She also bemoaned the fact that the government had been shut down for so long and that it was over funding for a border wall.
Like pretty much everything Cardi does, the video went viral.
Then Lahren weighed in.
“Looks like @iamcardib is the latest genius political mind to endorse the Democrats. HA! Keep it up, guys! #MAGA2020,” Lahren tweeted.
Cardi, of course, hit back.
“Leave me alone I will dog walk you,” the rapper responded.
“I’m sure you would. Still doesn’t make your political rambling any less moronic. #BuildthatWall,” Lahren wrote back.
This went on.
“You’re so blinded with racism that you don’t even realize the decisions the president you root for is destroying the country you claim to love so much .You are a perfect example on no matter how educated or smart you think you are you still a SHEEP!” Cardi tweeted.
Then it turned into an ideological debate of sorts over US tax policy. Cardi replied to someone on Twitter asking if the rapper was paying for their insurance, clearly not on board with the notion of her tax dollars going toward a border wall.
“Im paying about 4 million in taxes this year so most likely I am Paying for your insurance ….That’s if your favorite president don’t take my tax money for his wall Mr white bread .”
Lahren quoted Cardi’s response, saying Democrats were responsible for high taxes.
“You do realize these high taxes you complain about are the bedrock of the Democratic Party, right? If you want lower taxes and more economic freedom, beware of the party you are rooting for.”
Cardi’s latest foray into political debate is on brand for her. She said in an interview with GQ magazine last year that she loves political science and is “obsessed” with how the system works.
The nightmarish incident began when the 3:05 p.m. flight was diverted to the Goose Bay Airport in Newfoundland, Canada, due to a medical emergency. The plane landed there at 9:31 p.m. AST, and medical personnel met the aircraft and a passenger was taken to a local hospital.
But as the flight was set to take off again, it experienced a mechanical issue.
That’s when the waiting began.
Passengers were not allowed to leave the airplane because the Goose Bay Airport did not have a customs officer on duty during the overnight hours. Saturday bled into Sunday, and still the flight remained grounded.
Sonjay Dutt, a passenger on the plane, said on Twitter that the plane’s door had broken and that they were stuck on board as the weather dipped to negative-20 degrees outside. Unable to leave for hours upon hours, he began tweeting at United for help, saying that they were running low on food.
Passenger Steven Lau posted this photo of United workers trying to fix an emergency exit door.

On Sunday morning, Goose Bay officials brought on donuts and coffee from Tim Hortons, the classic Canadian fast food restaurant.
United had food delivered to the passengers and “the crew is doing everything possible to assist customers,” a United spokesperson said.
Finally, after more than 14 hours, Dutt was able to get off the plane with the rest of the passengers.
“Its been a long long long long day,” he tweeted.
Lloyd Slade, another passenger on the plane, said he was “just very tired, at this point” on Sunday. “Cabin/flight crew have been excellent and very helpful (United HQ/dispatch, not so much.)”
An alternative aircraft containing meals for the passengers was flown to Goose Bay to transport customers back to Newark.
“We apologize to our customers and our crew is doing everything possible to assist them during the delay,” the company said.
Passenger Steven Lau thanked those who brought Tim Hortons on board.
“(I) feel partly relieved to be on a new plane, but the crew is still loading bags and preparing the aircraft, so not certain when we’ll actually take off,” he said. “It’s nearing 24 hours since we originally took off from Newark, so we’re all feeling restless and frustrated. I’m just ready to be off the plane and finished with this experience.”
Lau said some passengers on the flight had decided to scrap their trips entirely in the wake of the overnight stay on the tarmac. He is planning to wait to see how United can get him there ASAP, he said.

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e.pbAg : n === N.GRANULARITY_OPTIONS.DENSE ? e.pbDg : n === N.GRANULARITY_OPTIONS.LOW ? e.pbLg : n === N.GRANULARITY_OPTIONS.MEDIUM ? e.pbMg : n === N.GRANULARITY_OPTIONS.HIGH ? e.pbHg : n === N.GRANULARITY_OPTIONS.CUSTOM ? e.pbCg : void 0}}, {key: N.TARGETING_KEYS.SIZE,val: function(e) {return e.size}}, {key: N.TARGETING_KEYS.DEAL,val: function(e) {return e.dealId}}, {key: N.TARGETING_KEYS.SOURCE,val: function(e) {return e.source}}, {key: N.TARGETING_KEYS.FORMAT,val: function(e) {return e.mediaType}}]),r[N.JSON_MAPPING.BD_SETTING_STANDARD]}function V(e, t) {if (!t)return {};var n = {}, r = pbjs.bidderSettings;r && (u(n, d(t.mediaType), t),e && r[e] && r[e][N.JSON_MAPPING.ADSERVER_TARGETING] && (u(n, r[e], t),t.sendStandardTargeting = r[e].sendStandardTargeting));return t.native && (n = b({}, n, (0,i.getNativeTargeting)(t))),n}function u(r, i, o) {var e = i[N.JSON_MAPPING.ADSERVER_TARGETING];return o.size = o.getSize(),O._each(e, (function(e) {var t = e.key, n = e.val;if (r[t] && O.logWarn(“The key: ” + t + ” is getting ovewritten”),O.isFn(n))try {n = n(o)} catch (e) {O.logError(“bidmanager”, “ERROR”, e)}(void 0 === i.suppressEmptyKeys || !0 !== i.suppressEmptyKeys) && t !== N.TARGETING_KEYS.DEAL || !O.isEmptyStr(n) && null != n ? r[t] = n : O.logInfo(“suppressing empty key ‘” + t + “‘ from adserver targeting”)})),r}function s(e) {var t = e.bidderCode, n = e.cpm, r = void 0;if (pbjs.bidderSettings && (t && pbjs.bidderSettings[t] && “function” == typeof pbjs.bidderSettings[t].bidCpmAdjustment ? r = pbjs.bidderSettings[t].bidCpmAdjustment : pbjs.bidderSettings[N.JSON_MAPPING.BD_SETTING_STANDARD] && “function” == typeof pbjs.bidderSettings[N.JSON_MAPPING.BD_SETTING_STANDARD].bidCpmAdjustment && (r = pbjs.bidderSettings[N.JSON_MAPPING.BD_SETTING_STANDARD].bidCpmAdjustment),r))try {n = r(e.cpm, b({}, e))} catch (e) {O.logError(“Error during bid adjustment”, “bidmanager.js”, e)}0 (eg mediaTypes.banner.sizes).”), e.sizes = n);if (t && t.video) {var i = t.video;if (i.playerSize)if (Array.isArray(i.playerSize) && 1 === i.playerSize.length && i.playerSize.every(d)) e.sizes = i.playerSize;else if (d(i.playerSize)) {var o = [];o.push(i.playerSize),w.logInfo(“Transforming video.playerSize from ” + i.playerSize + ” to ” + o + ” so it’s in the proper format.”),e.sizes = i.playerSize = o} else w.logError(“Detected incorrect configuration of mediaTypes.video.playerSize. Please specify only one set of dimensions in a format like: [[640, 480]]. Removing invalid mediaTypes.video.playerSize property from request.”), delete e.mediaTypes.video.playerSize}if (t && t.native) {var a = t.native;a.image && a.image.sizes && !Array.isArray(a.image.sizes) && (w.logError(“Please use an array of sizes for native.image.sizes field. Removing invalid mediaTypes.native.image.sizes property from request.”),delete e.mediaTypes.native.image.sizes),a.image && a.image.aspect_ratios && !Array.isArray(a.image.aspect_ratios) && (w.logError(“Please use an array of sizes for native.image.aspect_ratios field. Removing invalid mediaTypes.native.image.aspect_ratios property from request.”),delete e.mediaTypes.native.image.aspect_ratios),a.icon && a.icon.sizes && !Array.isArray(a.icon.sizes) && (w.logError(“Please use an array of sizes for native.icon.sizes field. Removing invalid mediaTypes.native.icon.sizes property from request.”),delete e.mediaTypes.native.icon.sizes)}})),e},h.callBids = function(e, t, r, i, o, a) {if (t.length) {var n = t.reduce((function(e, t) {return e[Number(void 0 !== t.src && t.src === C.S2S.SRC)].push(t),e}), [[], []]), d = b(n, 2), u = d[0], s = d[1];if (s.length) {var c = (0,E.ajaxBuilder)(a, o ? {request: o.request.bind(null, “s2s”),done: o.done} : void 0), f = U.bidders, l = R[U.adapter], g = s[0].tid, p = s[0].adUnitsS2SCopy;if (l) {var v = {tid: g,ad_units: p};if (v.ad_units.length) {var y = s.map((function(e) {return e.start = (0,S.timestamp)(),i})), m = v.ad_units.reduce((function(e, t) {return e.concat((t.bids || []).reduce((function(e, t) {return e.concat(t.bidder)}), []))}), []);w.logMessage(“CALLING S2S HEADER BIDDERS ==== ” + f.filter((function(e) {return (0,A.default)(m, e)})).join(“,”)),s.forEach((function(e) {B.emit(C.EVENTS.BID_REQUESTED, e)})),l.callBids(v, s, r, (function() {return y.forEach((function(e) {return e()}))}), c)}}}u.forEach((function(e) {e.start = (0,S.timestamp)();var t = R[e.bidderCode];w.logMessage(“CALLING BIDDER ======= ” + e.bidderCode),B.emit(C.EVENTS.BID_REQUESTED, e);var n = (e.doneCbCallCount = 0,E.ajaxBuilder)(a, o ? {request: o.request.bind(null, e.bidderCode),done: o.done} : void 0);t.callBids(e, r, i, n)}))} else w.logWarn(“callBids executed with no bidRequests. Were they filtered by labels or sizing?”)},h.videoAdapters = [],h.registerBidAdapter = function(e, t) {var n = (2 n

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Those who are on the job are sometimes held over to work 16-hour shifts to fill in the gaps, according to several prison workers and a union president who spoke with CNN.
The situation could put inmates and front line prison workers in danger, said Eric Young, national president of the AFGE Council of Prison Locals.
In one facility — the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York — some inmates are protesting cuts to services during the shutdown with a hunger strike, Young said.
The Bureau of Prisons denied there was a hunger strike, which has also been reported by The New York Times, but did not answer other questions from CNN about conditions in that prison and other facilities.
Correctional officers, like hundreds of thousands of federal employees, have been working for four weeks without paychecks.
They were already among the lowest-paid federal law enforcement officials, Young said, and the union believes the nation’s prisons are significantly understaffed by around 7,100 positions.
That means when the paychecks stop, the situation is especially dire.
“We work in an already dangerous and stressful environment, where going to work distracted or fatigued can lead to serious injury or death,” Young wrote in a letter to lawmakers this week.
Like other federal employees, correctional officers are facing difficult decisions between purchasing food, gas to get to work and paying bills, Young said.
FBI employees turn to food banks, outside work as shutdown drags on

But for prison workers, unpaid debts can jeopardize the security clearance a federal prison worker needs to stay on the job. Correctional officers who can’t pay their debts are considered at risk for bribery by inmates or gangs.
At one federal prison in the southern US, the warden and other senior staffers recently gathered correctional officers to “rally the troops,” one of two employees who described the meeting said.
“It was basically we’re going to try to rally the troops, we’re gonna try to ease people’s minds, which they couldn’t do,” that worker said. Both employees requested anonymity, and CNN is not naming the facility to protect the workers’ identities.
The facility has started a food bank in the past couple of weeks to help furloughed employees not getting paid. Several of this worker’s coworkers recently had babies, so people are bringing in basic items like baby wipes and diapers and other food to help people who need it.
“Some people might be able to make it one paycheck, making it two is a whole ‘nother story because now you are talking thousands of dollars not just a bump in the road,” the worker said.
For a number of reasons — such as being unable to afford gas or childcare — some correctional officers at that and other facilities have called out sick for their unpaid shifts.
“We care about each other, and the only reason we’re coming to work is because we’re trying not to screw over other employees,” the worker said.
Federal prisons are frequently located in rural areas, so many officers have lengthy and expensive 50- or 60-mile gas guzzling commutes.
Young said prison managers have been forced to cancel or scale back programs — like education, visitation and recreation — that require staffers who are either furloughed or call out. Those programs are central in inmates’ lives, and his members say they’re concerned about assaults or riots when inmate frustration spills over.
The Bureau of Prisons acknowledged in a statement that management may scale back programming when facilities are short-staffed.
“Wardens understand the operations and challenges at the prisons they are managing and have many options to address institution-specific concerns, including staff shortages during the shutdown,” the statement said. “Facilities can take steps to temporarily curb or cancel visitation, temporarily reduce or cancel programming, or implement other modified operations.”
Staffing shortages, and the BOP’s plan to fill gaps, are also leaving officers vulnerable, Young said.
Front line officers are being “augmented” by nurses, maintenance workers, and secretaries, who do not have the proper experience or training of their front-line colleagues, Young, the union president, said.
“That basic training does not provide and show you how to be a correction officer who does that every day of your life,” he said. The training they receive is only to “respond in the event of an emergency to assist the correctional staff.”
With no end in sight, prison workers say they’re not sure what comes next.
One prison worker told CNN, “Recently I’ve been waking up going, ‘is this worth it?’
Those who are on the job are sometimes held over to work 16-hour shifts to fill in the gaps, according to several prison workers and a union president who spoke with CNN.
The situation could put inmates and front line prison workers in danger, said Eric Young, national president of the AFGE Council of Prison Locals.
In one facility — the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York — some inmates are protesting cuts to services during the shutdown with a hunger strike, Young said.
The Bureau of Prisons denied there was a hunger strike, which has also been reported by The New York Times, but did not answer other questions from CNN about conditions in that prison and other facilities.
Correctional officers, like hundreds of thousands of federal employees, have been working for four weeks without paychecks.
They were already among the lowest-paid federal law enforcement officials, Young said, and the union believes the nation’s prisons are significantly understaffed by around 7,100 positions.
That means when the paychecks stop, the situation is especially dire.
“We work in an already dangerous and stressful environment, where going to work distracted or fatigued can lead to serious injury or death,” Young wrote in a letter to lawmakers this week.
Like other federal employees, correctional officers are facing difficult decisions between purchasing food, gas to get to work and paying bills, Young said.
FBI employees turn to food banks, outside work as shutdown drags on

But for prison workers, unpaid debts can jeopardize the security clearance a federal prison worker needs to stay on the job. Correctional officers who can’t pay their debts are considered at risk for bribery by inmates or gangs.
At one federal prison in the southern US, the warden and other senior staffers recently gathered correctional officers to “rally the troops,” one of two employees who described the meeting said.
“It was basically we’re going to try to rally the troops, we’re gonna try to ease people’s minds, which they couldn’t do,” that worker said. Both employees requested anonymity, and CNN is not naming the facility to protect the workers’ identities.
The facility has started a food bank in the past couple of weeks to help furloughed employees not getting paid. Several of this worker’s coworkers recently had babies, so people are bringing in basic items like baby wipes and diapers and other food to help people who need it.
“Some people might be able to make it one paycheck, making it two is a whole ‘nother story because now you are talking thousands of dollars not just a bump in the road,” the worker said.
For a number of reasons — such as being unable to afford gas or childcare — some correctional officers at that and other facilities have called out sick for their unpaid shifts.
“We care about each other, and the only reason we’re coming to work is because we’re trying not to screw over other employees,” the worker said.
Federal prisons are frequently located in rural areas, so many officers have lengthy and expensive 50- or 60-mile gas guzzling commutes.
Young said prison managers have been forced to cancel or scale back programs — like education, visitation and recreation — that require staffers who are either furloughed or call out. Those programs are central in inmates’ lives, and his members say they’re concerned about assaults or riots when inmate frustration spills over.
The Bureau of Prisons acknowledged in a statement that management may scale back programming when facilities are short-staffed.
“Wardens understand the operations and challenges at the prisons they are managing and have many options to address institution-specific concerns, including staff shortages during the shutdown,” the statement said. “Facilities can take steps to temporarily curb or cancel visitation, temporarily reduce or cancel programming, or implement other modified operations.”
Staffing shortages, and the BOP’s plan to fill gaps, are also leaving officers vulnerable, Young said.
Front line officers are being “augmented” by nurses, maintenance workers, and secretaries, who do not have the proper experience or training of their front-line colleagues, Young, the union president, said.
“That basic training does not provide and show you how to be a correction officer who does that every day of your life,” he said. The training they receive is only to “respond in the event of an emergency to assist the correctional staff.”
With no end in sight, prison workers say they’re not sure what comes next.
One prison worker told CNN, “Recently I’ve been waking up going, ‘is this worth it?’