Mich. seeks to fill 700 CO jobs

Michigan Department of Corrections is looking to fill about 700 vacant corrections officer positions at its 30 prisons


Ann Zaniewski
Detroit Free Press

"Help Wanted" is an understatement for the Michigan Department of Corrections.

The agency is looking to fill about 700 vacant corrections officer positions at its 30 prisons.

Spokesman Chris Gautz said the MDOC has been losing about 50 officers a month over the last few years, largely due to a spike in retirements of people who joined the department three decades ago.

"In the '80s, it was a get-tough-on-crime, lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key attitude, and there was a huge prison building boom in the state," he said. "It provided a need for a whole lot of jobs."

Promotions and turnover are also a factor in the vacancies, he said.

As the tough-on-crime attitudes of the 1980s shifted toward a focus on correcting behavior and helping inmates reenter society, Michigan's prison population declined, Gautz said. It is now at about 38,000, the lowest it has been since the early 1990s. A number of prisons have closed or consolidated in recent years.

Today, the MDOC employs 13,000 people. It has historically averaged about 400 to 500 vacancies at a time.

Having a large number of open spots leads to increased overtime costs. The department, with a $2 billion overall budget, spent $69 million on overtime in fiscal year 2017.

To draw applicants, the MDOC has recently beefed up its recruitment efforts and loosened an eligibility requirement for corrections officers. Instead of requiring candidates to have 15 hours of college credit, they can join the MDOC without it as long as they earn the credit during their first 18 months of employment.

The department has also launched a digital marketing campaign to promote its careers.

Corrections officers earn $17.67 to $27.06 hourly, according to a posting on the Michigan Civil Service Commission website.

Gautz said the position comes with paid training, good benefits and plenty of room for advancement.

"It’s a good, well-paying job," he said.

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©2019 the Detroit Free Press

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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