MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - New correctional officers will go to work Monday at Alabama prisons across the state. This comes after 37 officers graduated from the Alabama Training Academy Wednesday morning.
"It excites me about the future of the department," said Jeff Dunn, the Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner.
But the Alabama Department of Corrections still needs thousands of more people in security staff to reach 100 percent staffing levels.
"Staffing is our number one issue," Dunn said. "Facilities is probably right behind that, and most of our facilities are understaffed, and some to a very significant degree."
The department currently has 2,070 correctional security staff members. It needs 2,125 more to meet the authorized number of 4,195.
The authorized number comes from an inmate-to-officer ratio based on a correctional facility's inmate population.
To recruit, the department has hired a private marketing firm and is using social media to encourage millennial to apply. It is also using television advertisements and recently gave a pay raise to two-thirds of the staff earlier this year.
"Until we get our compensation structure for correctional officers where it needs to be we will struggle with recruiting and being competitive with our initial salaries," Dunn said.
The department also relies on current staff members to spread the word, like Sergeant Kelvin Maloy.
"I'm able to basically spread the love I have for the job I have and to also teach other officers how to do this," Maloy said.
He shared stories about the positive impact he had on inmates.
"It's a good thing when you can interact with them and do your job in a professional way and keep your integrity the whole time because that right there exemplifies what the DOC wants you to be," he said.
The department says even though it has experienced a decline in staff over the past few years, it is expecting to see an increase in officers through the department's recruiting and retention initiatives.