Justice Postpones Furlough Decision to Mid-April

Attorney General Eric Holder Attorney General Eric Holder Evan Vucci/AP

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday that he would postpone until mid-April a decision to furlough any Justice employees, according to news reports.

The department in February sent letters to assistant U.S. attorneys notifying them of proposed 14-day furloughs during the rest of the fiscal year.

Last week, Holder announced that the department would not furlough thousands of prison staffers because of mandatory budget cuts. Holder was able to shift $150 million in existing funds to the Bureau of Prisons to avoid daily furloughs of more than 3,500 correctional workers across the country. About 38,000 BoP employees supervise 176,000 prisoners at 119 federal institutions.

“The department's actions can protect BoP's facilities only through the end of the fiscal year in September and these actions do not address the serious life and safety issues that the BoP faces next year under continued funding at the post-sequestration levels,” Holder said in a March 22 memo to employees. Justice has to slash more than $1.6 billion from its budget this fiscal year because of sequestration.

“I am deeply troubled by the impact the sequester will have on the department's capacity to prevent terrorism, combat violent crime, partner with state and local law enforcement agencies, and protect the judiciary and our most vulnerable citizens,” the memo stated.

The attorney general’s March 22 memo to employees also noted that sequestration already has required “extensive cuts to travel, training, contracts, and other areas of spending in order to maintain our mission priorities.”

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