Ala. DOC unveils new correctional officer salary packages
Retaining and recruiting correctional officers is one of several long-term issues the department has targeted
By William Thornton
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
The Alabama Department of Corrections today announced a new salary and bonus structure for its correctional officers, including incentives to encourage training and reward job seniority.
The package comes following increased funding from the state’s general fund budget and Legislative action signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey in May. It also follows a U.S. Justice Department report released earlier this year documenting unconstitutional conditions in Alabama’s men’s prison.
Retaining and recruiting correctional officers is one of several long-term issues the department has targeted to change the narrative of Alabama’s prisons as being overcrowded and understaffed. An ADOC staffing analysis said the state’s prisons have about one-third the number of correctional officers they need.
According to the Department of Corrections, the department is now offering salary increases, including a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment effective Sept. 1. There will also be a one-time, 5 percent raise for correctional officers effective Oct. 1.
Included in the package are probationary increases of 5 percent for employees who meet performance expectations, and a slate of recruiting and retention bonuses, ranging from $4,500 to $7,500. Employees will also be eligible for an excess annual leave payout for up to 80 hours of excess annual leave per year. There will also be salary grade changes.
In addition, the plan creates two new position classifications, including a new entry-level correctional officer position that first appeared in May - Basic Correctional Officer. ADOC said it has seen an 150 percent increase in applications since the position’s creation.
Some of these changes were outlined previously in a strategic plan ADOC released in May, setting goals for staffing, infrastructure, programs and culture. In addition to the conditions outlined in the DOJ report, the state prison system faces a court order to add 2,200 correctional officers over the next few years following a five-year federal lawsuit over health care for inmates.
ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn said higher pay for correctional officers is "crucial to recruiting qualified new employees and retaining current ADOC personnel who carry out critical, meaningful work across the state of Alabama.”
“This legislation and the resulting changes to correctional officer compensation are a result of extensive collaboration between Gov. Ivey’s office, the state legislature, the State Personnel Department and third-party recruitment and compensation experts,” Dunn said. “These updates will help the ADOC improve safety for staff and inmates so that we can implement successful programming, which ultimately will reduce recidivism.”
The state plans to break ground next year on the first of three new men’s prisons, with a general price tag of $900 million.
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