Plan to raise Ala. CO pay advances
The bill is part of the Alabama Department of Corrections’ plan to try to hire and keep more officers on a staff that has one-third of the officers needed statewide
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Correctional officers in Alabama prisons would get a 5 percent raise along with incentive bonuses for areer milestones under a bill approved by a House committee today.
The bill by Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, would also allow officers to receive payment for portions of leave time they have accrued but have not used.
The bill is part of the Alabama Department of Corrections’ plan to try to hire and keep more officers on a staff that has one-third of the officers needed statewide.
A U.S. Department of Justice report to Gov. Kay Ivey on April 2 said overcrowding and understaffing in Alabama’s men’s prisons exacerbated the violence, sexual abuse, drugs, weapons and other dangers that the DOJ alleged create conditions that violate the Constitution.
“We have a significant shortage in our prison system of corrections officers,” England said. “It has contributed to the danger in the system for the officers and the prisoners. Obviously, the more corrections officers that you have in the system, the safer it can be. So, what we need to do is not only become more attractive as an employer but also more attractive in retaining employees, as well.”
Plans taking shape to add guards in understaffed Alabama prisons
The state is developing a new security guard position for state prisons that does not require the 12-week law enforcement training that correctional officers complete.
The ADOC has about 1,200 full-time correctional officers and is under a federal court order to add about 2,200 over the next few years. The DOJ report recommended adding 500 security employees in six months.
The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee approved England’s bill this afternoon without opposition. There was almost no discussion on the bill, partly because money to pay for the pay raises and bonuses is already in the General Fund budget approved by the House.
That budget includes a $40 million increase for prisons next year. The fiscal note for England’s bill says the pay increase and bonuses would cost the ADOC a total of about $58 million over the next six years.
An identical bill, by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, is pending in the Senate.
England said he expects more legislation this session in response to the prison problems. He said he expects legislation on increased oversight of ADOC, sentencing reform, and prison construction.
The Ivey administration is pursuing a plan to seek requests from companies to build three men’s prisons that would be leased to the state. England said a plan approved by the Legislature would be less expensive and more effective than leasing prisons.
Lawmakers rejected prison building plans in 2016 and 2017.
©2019 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham