ADOC commissioner address staff shortages

Dozens of Alabama inmates are out of prison. They were released as part of a new sentencing...
Dozens of Alabama inmates are out of prison. They were released as part of a new sentencing guidelines law that took effect Tuesday. The Alabama Department of Corrections says it has not released any inmate without first notifying victim's families, but Blount County’s district attorney says that’s not true for a man convicted of murder in the county.(WBRC)
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 7:08 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - There is a large staff shortage in the Alabama department of corrections, and it could be years before it improves.

ADOC Commissioner John Hamm gave lawmakers an update on efforts to improve the department, and some are not happy with what they heard.

State leaders attribute the staffing problems to unsafe conditions inside the facilities.

“We’re 688 correctional officers just short of what we’re actually funded to have,” said Hamm.

“It’s safety. Nobody wants to come to work to a job when they have a high probability of being injured or killed,” said Senator Greg Albritton.

The solution leaders say is new prisons.

“It’s not gonna be solved overnight,” said Hamm. So we want it to be solved as soon as possible, but we have no time frame.”

The Elmore County Facility is currently under construction. The other newly planned prison will be in Albritton’s district in Escambia County. He’s not satisfied with the progress in either location.

“Unfortunately, we are stuck with where we are until we get the construction completed,” said Albritton. And then we can start doing something real to keep the safety there and also doing much more in regard to doing what we should.”

While there is the possibility of potential issues staffing 4-thousand-inmate prisons, key changes could bring in more employees.

“I think people we they know that the safety factor goes up that you can come home when you go to work,” said Albritton.

“We’ve worked with state personnel and the governor’s office to have location differentials for employees, and we’re also looking at compensation packages to be competitive with local law enforcement,” said Hamm.

Hamm says there is the possibility of a pay increase for correctional officers if their budget request is approved. The department is requesting nearly $800 million for its FY2024 budget.

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