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As prison staff vacancy rate soars, officials propose surveillance wristbands, drones

Prison leaders added that adopting more advanced surveillance technology will not only curtail chronic shortages but also streamline information and communications for both inmates and staff

By Naoka Foreman
The Nevada Independent

Faced with an ever-deepening staffing shortage and a correctional officer vacancy rate that has hit 32 percent, leaders at the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) said they are trying to rethink their staffing model and explore using surveillance wristbands, sensors and drones to reduce their need for manpower.

Some prisons in the U.S. have reported they are in crisis and experiencing severe staff shortages as high as 50 percent, potentially endangering staff, the general public and the prison population. Nevada’s vacancy rate is about triple the 9 percent worker shortage reported in 2020.

“NDOC, as with all corrections agencies throughout the nation, has been besieged by staffing shortages and a sharp decline in staff retention,” Charles Daniels, director of Nevada prisons, told lawmakers at a legislative judiciary committee meeting earlier this month.

Daniels was hired in 2019 and told The Nevada Independent in March of 2020 that the pay structure at NDOC is a disincentive to work there. The starting salary for officers at NDOC is roughly $46,000 per year.

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