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Violence plagued West Virginia prison before Bulger’s murder

November 1, 2018 GMT
In this April 14, 2009 photo, Fotios "Freddy" Geas appears for a court proceeding in his defense in the Al Bruno murder case, in Springfield, Mass. Geas and at least one other inmate are being investigated as suspects in the slaying of former Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger, who was killed behind bars on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, less than 24 hours after being transferred to a federal prison in West Virginia, according to a former investigator briefed on the matter. The death of notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger marks the third inmate to be killed at a West Virginia federal prison in the last six months.  (Don Treeger /The Republican via AP)
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In this April 14, 2009 photo, Fotios "Freddy" Geas appears for a court proceeding in his defense in the Al Bruno murder case, in Springfield, Mass. Geas and at least one other inmate are being investigated as suspects in the slaying of former Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger, who was killed behind bars on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, less than 24 hours after being transferred to a federal prison in West Virginia, according to a former investigator briefed on the matter. The death of notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger marks the third inmate to be killed at a West Virginia federal prison in the last six months. (Don Treeger /The Republican via AP)
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In this April 14, 2009 photo, Fotios "Freddy" Geas appears for a court proceeding in his defense in the Al Bruno murder case, in Springfield, Mass. Geas and at least one other inmate are being investigated as suspects in the slaying of former Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger, who was killed behind bars on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, less than 24 hours after being transferred to a federal prison in West Virginia, according to a former investigator briefed on the matter. The death of notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger marks the third inmate to be killed at a West Virginia federal prison in the last six months. (Don Treeger /The Republican via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long before notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was killed in a West Virginia federal prison, lawmakers and even prison guards were sounding the alarm about dangerous conditions at the facility.

Bulger is the third inmate killed in the last six months at USP Hazelton. Yet, there’s been no public indication federal prison officials have taken action to address the safety concerns.

Court records, oversight reports and news articles detail numerous violent incidents in the last few years.

Union officials have raised concerns about dozens of vacant positions at the prison. They’ve also decried a practice known as augmentation, which taps health care workers, teachers and secretaries to fill correction officer positions.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons did not respond to questions about the safety concerns at USP Hazelton.

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