Members respond to Safety in State Correctional Facilities report
MAPE is pleased to see the Legislative Auditor (OLA) focus on an issue of longtime importance to MAPE: safety in the state’s correctional facilities.
“The Safety in State Correctional Facilities report by the Office of the Legislative Auditor highlights what MAPE members see in their daily work at the Dept. of Corrections: chronic shortages of staff is harmful to employees and for offenders. In addition to corrections officers, we also want to make sure that overall staffing levels at all facilities reach appropriate levels,” MAPE President Chet Jorgenson said.
“Therapists, field services representatives, case workers, behavioral health and chemical dependency staff and employees at the central office are part of the overall success of the Dept. of Corrections and eventual reintegration of offenders back into the community. All of these positions at facilities across the state are chronically under-staffed,” said Jessica Raptis, MAPE Region 11 Director and DOC program administrator.
The report noted that persistent staffing shortages at the Dept. of Corrections (DOC) have threatened safety.
“Understaffing has plagued facilities at all levels. Staff shortages affect our overall department core function, limit much needed critical resources to support successful reintegration from prison to community, and restrict resources to ensure the safety and security of public staff and offenders,” said Lois Tucke, MAPE Region 13 Director and DOC sign language interpreter specialist.
“Staff shortages contribute to greater fatigue, more stress, potential injury and ever increasing job dissatisfaction. Due to budget restraints, we are unable to provide competitive salaries which creates additional challenges with retention and recruitment of skilled professionals,” Tucke added.
Behavioral health staff vacancies are also up, leaving offenders idle. The OLA report highlights staffing shortages have led many prisons to curtail activities for prisoners, increasing tensions and reducing safety.
“MAPE stands ready to be part of the solution and work with legislators and the administration to ensure all facilities are fully-funded and staffed,” Jorgenson said.