Turnover in Corrections

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Category: Business and Industry

Date Submitted: 08/21/2011 12:53 PM

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The department attributes this turnover to the dissatisfaction with management, stressful working conditions, and salary competition. The Legislature has increased correctional officer salaries, but many counties continue to offer lower salaries to their correction staff. When officers leave shortly after they are trained, the state loses the dollars it has spent training them. While state law requires such officers to reimburse the state for training costs, the department has not routinely collected these repayments. The monetary cost of such high turnover is enormous. At a cost of approximately 6000 dollars to train each incoming correctional officer, the money spent training those who left after less than one year of service totaled approximately 500,000 dollars in 2002. Still more important are the consequences for staff that remain at the facilities. Mandatory overtime, order-ins, a higher inmate to correctional officer ratio, and working with a revolving door of inexperienced correctional officers raises the stress levels and lowers the morale of the remaining correctional officers. This paper presents a comprehensive review of some generally accepted staff retention strategies and an assessment of various management strategies in use around the country that have proven successful in both keeping staff and maximizing their potential. How can administrators of correction agencies reduce staff turnover and create a satisfied dedicated long-term workforce?

Topical Area/Causes

During advisory board hearings held by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) in 1988, several correction administrators communicated their concern about high staff turnover rates in their facilities. The loss of experienced staff, the need to hire staff to replace those who left as well as to fill new positions created to staff new facilities, and the need to train more staff was placing an additional strain on prison managers. NIC decided to mount a major effort to...