Bill To Raise Correction Officers' Pay Passes In State House

Tuesday, March 5th 2019, 6:00 pm

A bill to give corrections officers a $2 per hour raise passed in the state House of Representatives.

Last year, the Department of Corrections had asked the state for $800 million for two new prisons.

The DOC later rolled back that request, instead asking for more money for the corrections staff.

“We can’t keep correctional officers. If you look at the national average of how many correctional officers, we are one of the lowest in the nation,” said Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Bennington.

Department officials said often they have one officer to every 80 or more inmates, with a starting salary of just $13.74 an hour. Because of that, officials say they're losing officers faster than they can hire them.

“Will this help us recruit maybe a few more CO’s so that we’re not having to have the work so much mandatory overtime and all that good stuff?” Rep. Matt Meredith, D-Tahlequah, asked.

Humphrey responded, “In the month of January, we hired approximately 600 officers and lost approximately 700 officers, so retention is a huge huge issue.”

The bill passed 99-0 and would categorize corrections officers pay as "hazard pay." It now goes to the state Senate.

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