Lawmakers Propose Boosting Pay At State Prison To Address Guard Shortages

Staff Have Been Working Overtime, Taking Double Shifts To Compensate

Dual Freq (CC-BY-SA)

Two Democratic state legislators are proposing to boost pay for correctional officers at the state’s maximum security prison in Portage to address staff shortages there.

Guards have been working overtime and pulling double shifts to maintain security at the Columbia Correctional Institution. However, Rep. David Considine and Sen. Jon Erpenbach say it would cost less in the long run to increase starting wages for new recruits to solve the shortage. Considine said the $15 an hour starting wage just isn’t competitive.

“This particular budget has no increase for them, and that’s not what’s happening in all the surrounding areas — and especially in other law enforcement areas where a lot of these men and women are trained and could go,” he said.

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Considine said he and Erpenbach support a pay raise, but that the GOP majority in the Senate and Assembly want to go in a different direction. The lawmakers plan a joint visit to the Portage prison soon to talk with staff there about possible solutions.

Department of Corrections officials say they’re doubling the number of recruit training sessions and are confident they can manage the shortage through overtime until they can fill the vacant positions.