Bill seeks to address DOC personnel shortage

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A bill has been filed that seeks to ease the personnel shortage at the Department of Corrections.

Bill 240-35 (COR), introduced by Sen. Telena Nelson, seeks to establish a moratorium on the pre-employment requirements for a correctional officer at DOC.

During the recent oversight hearing on the Department of Corrections, DOC officials testified that DOC has been experiencing the adverse effects of a shortage in manpower at their facilities, which has led to long working hours for the department’s limited correctional officers.

DOC administrators have stressed the urgency of the need to have approximately 320 correctional officers to run their facilities in accordance with their mandates. However, the Department of Corrections employs roughly only 160 correctional officers.

As a result, correctional officers have had to occasionally work upwards of 24 hours straight, and often in units where the ratio is one correctional officer to upwards of 50 inmates, creating a high-risk environment at the Department’s facilities, as also stated by an open letter circulated by anonymous DOC employees.

These employees have also voiced concerns about the increased risks to their safety and well-being as a result of the shortage in manpower.

To address these problems, Bill 240-35 (COR) seeks to alleviate the poor work environment at the Department of Corrections and enhance the safety of correctional officers by establishing a moratorium on the pre-employment requirements for correctional officers.

Doing this will enable the department to streamline and expedite their recruitment process to meet their needs.

The bill stresses that this is just a temporary moratorium upon the pre-employment requirement for correctional officers in reference to a psychological evaluation to determine the absence of mental and emotional conditions.

The temporary moratorium does not waive qualifications to be certified as a peace officer on Guam. It only defers the background investigation and psychological evaluation to be conducted during the recruit cycle training.

Moreover, no DOC recruit shall receive an appointment on a permanent basis or hold an appointment on a permanent basis as an officer unless awarded and certified by the executive director of the P.O.S.T. Commission attesting to the recruit’s satisfactory completion of all requirements.

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