New pay, bonus structures coming for understaffed Ala. prisons

New pay, bonus structures coming for understaffed Ala. prisons
The Alabama Department of Corrections says it's changing its pay and bonus structure as it works to recruit and retain corrections officers.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama Department of Corrections employees will soon benefit from a new salary and bonus structure, a direct result of the passage of HB468 during the recent legislative session.

The law provides ADOC correctional officers a two-step, five percent pay raise as well as an expansion of an incentive program to include bonuses for those who reach career milestones or who get additional training.

ADOC says the changes are “critical" to helping its reach goals in its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan.

“Our employees are our greatest assets and the key to improving prisons in Alabama,” said ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn. “Increasing compensation for our security workforce is crucial to recruiting qualified new employees and retaining current ADOC personnel who carry out critical, meaningful work across the state of Alabama.”

Updates to the ADOC’s comprehensive compensation plan include salary increases, higher guaranteed probationary increases, recruitment and retention bonuses, optional excess annual leave payout, salary grade changes and two new position classifications.

Specifically, this includes:

  • Salary increases including a two percent cost-of-living adjustment, effective Sept. 1, and a one-time, five percent raise for employees in the correctional officer series, effective Oct. 1.
  • Probationary increases of five percent for employees who meet performance expectations.
  • Recruiting and retention bonuses, ranging from $4,500 – $7,500.
  • Excess annual leave payout for up to 80 hours of excess annual leave per year.
  • Two new position classifications including a new entry-level correctional officer position, Basic Correctional Officer.
  • Salary grade changes.

“These updates will help the ADOC improve safety for staff and inmates so that we can implement successful programming, which ultimately will reduce recidivism,” Dunn stated.

The embattled ADOC is under court order to enact sweeping corrective actions from the U.S. Department of Justice.

In April, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report documenting horrifying conditions inside Alabama’s mens’ prisons. DOJ found Alabama to have some of the deadliest prisons in the nation, with a homicide rate eight times the national average. Investigators discovered the overcrowded and understaffed prisons create an environment for systemic violence and unsanitary living conditions.

One of the steps ADOC moved to address, chronic understaffing, prompted creation of the BCO position. Since announcing it in May, the ADOC says it has seen a 150 percent increase in applications.

ADOC is working to hire 500 correctional officers to begin remediating its severely low staffing issues. A federal court order requires ADOC to hire more than 2,000 officers by 2022.

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