A pair of audits released last week were critical of the state’s Corrections Department. The two key issues coming out of the audits were high overtime costs and inadequate services for female inmates at the state’s prison for women, according to a Concord Monitor report.
Commissioner William Wrenn agreed with the audits’ findings but blamed the Legislature for: cutting the department’s budget; refusing to build a new women’s facility; and failing to support policy changes that aim to rehabilitate prisoners and provide early parole for some.
The overtime costs stem largely from a 26 percent decrease in corrections workers and an 18 percent increase in inmates between 2001 and 2012. Those changes mean there are more shifts to fill to maintain safe facilities, and the simplest way to fill those has been through overtime.
As the Monitor reported, the audit found there simply aren’t enough workers to fill the shifts:
At the current staffing levels, every uniformed employee would have to work one shift of overtime every week, for 52 weeks a year to maintain security. Auditors said that approach was not only costly but detrimental to the health and morale of staff.
SEA President Diana Lacey said it’s on the Legislature to help fix the issue by adequately funding the department.
“(Wrenn) is correct that he needs more staffing,” Lacey said. “He is correct that that is the heart of the matter because you don’t need overtime when you have enough staff. And it’s the Legislature that won’t give him enough staffing.”