Reducing Correctional Officer Vacancies

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Reducing Correctional Officer Vacancies

May 19, 2024 - 17:40
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Earlier this month we observed Correctional Officer Appreciation Week as an acknowledgement that the employees who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe have some of the hardest jobs around. In recent years, worker shortages at our state prisons have climbed as vacancy rates reached an average of 35%, with some facilities seeing higher than 40% vacancy rates. This only put more stress on the officers who continued to do the job day-in and day-out, as they were asked to work endless days and endless hours with no breaks in sight.

To address this issue, our most recent budget provided substantial hourly pay increases for security staff at our state's correctional facilities with additional incentives for medium security, maximum security and high-vacancy prisons.

The good news is that this policy decision is already working. By February of this year, the vacancy rate had dropped to an average of 25% and the Department of Corrections is graduating a record number of officers from its training program.

In addition to helping state-funded correctional officers, we also voted to help those correctional officers working in our county facilities by creating parity in some of the benefits that other members of the law enforcement community enjoy.

In Racine County, we have a number of correctional officers who staff RCI, Ellsworth and the Racine Youth Offenders Program. Let's all remember to thank our correctional officers who often put themselves in harm's way, showing up every day in these essential positions to keep our communities safe. Let's also remember to thank their families for supporting them, enabling them to continue doing this hard, important work.

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