Correctional Officer Killed by Stab Wound to the Heart

June 24, 2008 9:40:33 PM PDT
Preliminary autopsy results were released Tuesday for Officer Jose Rivera. Now his family wants changes to protect other officers.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
An account has been set up to help the Rivera family in their time of need. If you would like to make a donation, please click here for account information.
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Jose Rivera's mother spent the day doing one of the most painful things a parent can possibly do, planning her son's funeral.

Terry Rivera/Victim's mother: "He was my lovely child and a good person, and he should be here with us."

Rivera's brother made this tribute video after the 22 year old correctional officer was killed. Authorities say two inmates stabbed him with homemade weapons inside Atwater's federal prison Friday afternoon. Preliminary autopsy results released Tuesday say Rivera suffered several puncture wounds to his upper torso and back. One fatal blow pierced his heart.

Lisa Rosales/Victim's girlfriend: "It's really hard going home and him not being there at night."

Now Rivera's family members say they want better protection for other correctional officers.

Terry Rivera: "That's what Jose would want, nobody else to get hurt."

The union that represents correctional officers at federal prisons says one of the biggest safety concerns is understaffing. A statement released by the council of prison locals says quote, "We need more staffing to get the job done. It's as simple as that. A decrease in staffing levels makes our prisons and communities less safe."

Prison officials did not return calls about the inmate to officer ratio, but the bureau of prisons website says the Atwater facility is offering signing bonuses to fill an urgent need for officers.

There are also questions about whether atwater officers have access to non-lethal weapons like tazers and stab-proof vests like these worn by officers at the merced county jail. But now as rivera's loved ones wait for answers, they are also asking for change.

Lisa Rosales: "The system, they should have more protection for those workers."

Prison officials say they cannot release the names of the inmates involved in the attack or comment on the case because the F.B.I. is still investigating the murder. Services for Rivera are being planned for later this week.

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An account has been set up to help the Rivera family in their time of need. If you would like to make a donation, please click here for account information.
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