MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - With issues of overcrowded and understaffed prisons in our state, staffing recruitment and retention is a critical focus of the Alabama Department of Corrections, and that’s why a public hiring event was held Saturday.
According to ADOC officials, they are only a little over half-staffed right now, and over the next few years they’re looking to hire thousands.
Personnel Director Bill Lawley says this is something they’ve been dealing with for quite some time and now they’re trying to fill some spots.
“It’s been a gradual thing. It’s been going on for several years and as the unemployment rate has gone down, our attrition rate has gone up as people found other jobs and went to other jobs,” said Lawley. “But we believe we have a good place to work. The more people we have on board, the more efficient we are, the more effective we are with our mission. In the security ranks over the next couple of years, we’re going to be trying to fill a couple thousand, that’s over the next couple of years. In the support roles, we’re trying to fill at least, in the next year, we need to fill a couple hundred jobs.”
He says filling those jobs also means financial efficiency.
“If we don’t have enough people, then we end up having to work overtime which is actually a costly endeavor on the security side. On the non-security side, if we don’t have people in the support positions there are times when we have to fill in with correctional officers and security guards," he said. "So, the most effective we are, the more efficient we are, the less overtime we have.”
Some people who attended the event say they know about the shortage, and think it’s because of overcrowded prisons.
“I do know that they do have a shortage. I just think everyone has a negative outlook on corrections,” said Tiffany Pearson. “Once you hear that, everyone kind of shies away from it.”
“Given that the prison population is overpopulated with nonviolent offenders, I think there is an increase in demand in that particular field,” said Kearston Clark.
We're told that there will be more hiring events throughout the state in the coming months.
ADOC has unveiled new compensation packages, a result of a new law signed by Gov. Kay Ivey. The law will provide ADOC correctional officers a two-step, 5 percent pay raise and expand the incentive program to include bonuses for additional training and career milestones.
ADOC hopes this the new compensation help in achieving goals outlined in their 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. Officials say that more hiring events will be happening across the state in the coming months.