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TDCJ raises recruiting bonus to address staffing shortages

New correctional officers can make $4,000 extra if they sign a one-year contract to work at understaffed prisons

By Cody Stark
The Huntsville Item

HUNTSVILLE — The Texas prison system has sweetened the pot to attract potential correctional officers to units dealing with staffing problems around the state.

Last month, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston approved increasing the recruiting bonus to $4,000 for new correctional officers willing to sign one-year contracts to work at 15 understaffed prisons that are located in rural areas, or in areas competing for jobs with the oil and gas industry.

“The recruitment and retention of correctional officers is a top priority for the agency,” TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark wrote this week in an email. “The recruitment bonus is another tool the agency is using to attract applicants to apply for positions at units that are facing staffing challenges. We understand that the correctional officer position is one of the most demanding jobs in all of state government.

“TDCJ is committed to doing all it can to recruit and retain correctional officers.”

Two of the units where the increased bonus is being offered are near Walker County. The Ferguson Unit in Midway and the Eastham Unit in Lovelady have correctional officer positions that need to be filled.

Those eligible for the bonus must be full-time correctional officers who were newly hired or graduated from the academy on or after Jan. 15, 2014, TDCJ retirees who are rehired as full-time correctional officers after 90 days of retirement from the agency or former employees rehired after one year of separation.

Since the bonus was raised in January, 16 officers have signed on to work at either the Eastham or Ferguson units.

“Correctional officers must sign a contract agreeing to work an understaffed facility for one year from the date of the bonus payment,” Clark wrote. “After graduating from the academy, they would receive a check for the full amount (of the bonus).”

This is the second time TDCJ has upped the ante to fill positions at units that are short-staffed. Livingston authorized doubling the bonus from $1,500 to $3,000 in June 2012.

TDCJ is also offering the $4,000 recruiting bonus at the following units: Briscoe Unit in Frio County; Cotulla in La Salle County; Connally Unit in Karnes County; Dalhart in Hartley County; Daniel in Scurry County; McConnell in Bee County; Lynaugh and Fort Stockton in Pecos County; Jordan and Baten in Gray County; Smith in Dawson County; Stiles in Jefferson County; and Wallace and Ware in Mitchell County.

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