HD81 - Staffing Needs and Levels Within the Department of Corrections and a Reevaluation of Retirement Benefits of Probation and Parole Officers and Correctional Officers

Executive Summary:
The purpose of the study on staffing levels and retirement benefits for certain correctional employees was to recommend strategies to the Department of Corrections for improving retention of correctional officers and provide an alternative recommendation to inclusion in the SPORS system for enhancing the retirement benefits of both correctional officers and probation and parole officers. The study evolved from two previous Crime Commission studies on these issues. The recommendations reflect a collaborative effort between the Crime Commission staff and the Department of Corrections.

The recommendations include several budget amendments for strategies to address improved correctional officer morale and retention:

• Recommend a one grade upgrade for new correctional officers, with a one-step increase for current employees.

• Recommend tuition reimbursements for officers studying for certificates or degrees.

• Recommend formal on the job training programs.

• Increase the uniforms issued to officers to last a full week.

A comprehensive staffing study by the Department of Corrections was last conducted in 1985. The Crime Commission, in a previous study, recommended that this study be updated to reflect the significant number of new facilities which have come online since 1985. The Department was requested to complete the study by December, 1998; however, due to delays in opening some of the new prisons the Department asked for an extension until December, 1998. The Crime Commission concurred.

Finally, the Crime Commission recommended a resolution directing the Department of Corrections to develop an enhanced retirement plan for correctional officers and probation and parole officers. The plan will include options for employee/Commonwealth contributions. The plan will be completed by October 1, 1998 and submitted to the Crime Commission, House Appropriations Committee, and Senate Finance Committee for consideration.