Following an extensive oversight hearing, the Department of Corrections is working to rectify its manpower shortage, which has contributed to various issues at the agency such as faulty releases, overworked corrections officers, and prisoner assaults on corrections officers.
This year, the Department of Corrections has experienced 4 erroneous releases, 15 resignations from corrections officers, prisoner assaults on officers, and the escape of two inmates from a halfway house the same night that an oversight hearing was being held for the agency.
With only 164 COs in service, DOC Director Samantha Brennan, Major Antone Aguon and Warden Alan Borja attribute these issues to a lack of officers.
“To run our prison using a National Institute of Prisons formula I would need about 320 officers to run my facility the way the SOP mandates,” Aguon said.
“If we are going to adequately function on a daily basis we need about 70 officers this is just units for the posts…it lessens in the evening shift,” DOC warden Alan Borja said.
And while DOC is hoping to hire 35 additional officers this fiscal year, the shortage has resulted in visitation being canceled, galley detail cut out, and current officers being overly worked.
But Brennan says that new officers can be integrated more quickly into the system if elements in the hiring process are expedited such as background checks, polygraph testing, and psych evaluations.
While it was mentioned that the issues facing DOC could lead back to federal receivership, or a state of emergency declaration, Committee on Public Safety Chairwoman Telena Nelson says she is closely monitoring the department’s operations.