Unlike thousands of federal workers nationwide, correctional officers at West Virginia's federal penitentiaries were immune to the furloughs caused by the partial government shutdown.
Officers will not be paid for their services until the shutdown ends, however.
So while inmates' lives will continue as normal for the foreseeable future, those charged with keeping prisoners safe and out of trouble could soon be facing hard times.
"We are considered essential employees ... so we have to go to work. But we're not getting paid at this time to go to work," said Jill Carver, local president of the American Federation of Government Employees in Beckley.
Carver is a teacher at the Federal Correctional Institution in Beckley, running GED and parenting classes for inmates, and has worked for the Bureau of Prisons for 20 years. She said staff members are getting worried if the shutdown continues for very long, they won't have enough money to put gas in their cars to get to work.
"You can't come to work on fumes. And if you have the option of putting $50 in your vehicle or $50 to feed your family another week, you're not going to make the choice to not feed your family," Carver said.
Furloughed employees will eventually be paid. Congress voted Oct. 5 to give laid-off workers back pay once the shutdown ends. But Carver said that doesn't help those with immediate financial needs.
"Everyone thinks federal employees make beaucoups of money. Most of us live payday to payday like everyone else does," she said. "I'm hoping it gets resolved. I think we are going to survive this first two weeks, then after that we're going to be in trouble."
Federal prison employees will receive a paycheck next week for hours logged before the partial government shutdown, which began Oct. 1. But Carver said that paycheck likely would be small, because workers will only be compensated for a portion of their usual pay period.
She said most workers aren't expecting to receive anything in their checks, after deductions for benefits and taxes.
The correctional officers' credit union is helping out, offering members short-term, low-interest loans.
But Carver said eventually, working for no pay would wear on employees. And other problems could arise if employees stop showing up for work.