This morning’s escape adds to the growing concerns over the manpower problems at the Department of Corrections.
After a week of meetings with guards and managers at the island’s prison, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero this morning spoke about her administration’s plans to address the problems at DOC.
The governor said she doesn’t know exactly what happened when Pat Hernandez made his brief escape from detention this morning but over the past week she has learned that many of the problems at the Department of Corrections come down to a lack of manpower.
“Generally, the concerns up there are primarily lack of manpower that then results in not very secure oversight, results in long hours of working, and results in feeling unsafe,” the governor said.
As a result, the governor said her administration has devised a plan, developed over the past month, to hire as many as 60 new corrections officers before the end of the year…
“I’m targeting anywhere from 40 to 60 within the next two to three weeks. And then, of course, we’ll go from there. My understanding is … they’re hired and then their general orders orientation is a week, and then DOC orientation and training is another week, and then they’re put into on-the-job training with supervision,” the governor said.
The plan to hire that many new correction officers, said the governor, involves reducing much of the red tape currently involved in the hiring process.
“A lot of the delays are in the bureaucracy of hiring and so what we have done is work with DOA to streamline some of that. We’re working with GCC to get pre-qualified individuals that have already gone through the criminal justice system. They don’t really have to wait for the P.O.S.T. or any of those requirements,” the governor said.
In addition, the governor said that all overtime owed to current DOC staff has now been paid.
“I will do what I say I’m going to do and that’s to provide the necessary manpower. Training is another issue that they have never or had very limited training. Leadership was also asking for some leadership training. These are all the things that director Brennan has already planned and are in the works,” the governor said.
When PNC asked if the governor is still confident in Brennan’s leadership, she answered: “Absolutely!”
The governor added that she will not be declaring a state of emergency at DOC.