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Ivey approves pay raises, bonuses for corrections officers

Chip Brownlee

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Governor Kay Ivey signs HB468 in the Old House Chamber Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Montgomery, Ala. This bill provides a two-step salary increase for certain employees of the Department of Corrections (DOC) in specified classifications; allows certain employees to receive payment for any accrued and unused annual leave in excess of 480 hours, up to a specified amount; and expands the bonus incentive program of DOC to include bonus payments for additional training achievements. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Some corrections officers in Alabama will soon be getting a pay raise.

Gov. Kay Ivey has signed a bill into law that would provide a two-step pay raise for certain employees of the Alabama Department of Corrections. The measure all expands the incentive program to include bonuses for officers who get additional training achievements.

“While there is no single solution to the multi-faceted, complex problems of Alabama’s prison system, this legislation is an important step in fully staffing our correctional facilities,” Ivey said. “This bill will go a long way in improving our recruitment and retention efforts, while addressing our understaffed prisons. I’m encouraged by the Legislature’s tireless efforts and willingness to find common ground to provide an ‘Alabama solution to this Alabama problem.’”

State Rep. Christopher England, D-Tuscaloosa, sponsored the legislation in the House.

The legislation is part of an ongoing plan to increase investment in Alabama’s beleaguered and dilapidated corrections system. The pay raise for corrections officers is intended to improve officer retention rates after federal courts ordered the state to increase the number of officers in the system.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ordered the Department to add about 2,200 correctional officers.

The governor said in a statement that by increasing pay and offering more incentives, ADOC can remain competitive in recruitment and improve retention rates of security personnel.

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“This piece of legislation will put the Department of Corrections in a much better position moving forward,” England said. “It is imperative we more adequately compensate current corrections officers in order to retain them while simultaneously giving a recruiting incentive for potential candidates in the future. This bill accomplishes these points and is why I chose to sponsor this bill.”

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The Legislature last week sent the state’s General Fund Budget — which funds the corrections department — to conference committee after the Senate amended the House version. Both versions of the budget include increased appropriations for the Department of Corrections as lawmakers continue to grapple with a U.S. Department of Justice report that found conditions in the state’s prison system potentially violate the Constitution.

The DOJ found that poor staffing contributed to the violent conditions in the prisons.

The entire funding increase for the Department of Corrections would be $46 million.

The legislation Ivey signed this week also includes a bonus incentive program for employees and correctional officers who reach certain training achievements and milestones. It also allows for certain employees to receive payment for any accrued and unused annual leave in excess of 480 hours, up to a specified amount.

“This is a monumental bill for the Department of Corrections in terms of providing a comprehensive one-time pay increase for our state correctional officers and security staff,” said Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn. “This legislation sends a powerful message to those who want to pursue a career in corrections, and it provides a positive pathway forward for meeting the department’s staffing needs.”

 

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