Prison losing staffers hired in state recruiting blitz

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Nearly one year ago, the state unveiled new efforts to recruit and hire more correctional officers to work in Wisconsin's prisons. We have learned many of those new employees have already left the job.

An officer at Green Bay Correctional Institution contacted us about looking into staffing and new hires lasting less than a year.

It was 10 months ago that we sat down with the former warden of GBCI to learn about new efforts to fill 52 vacant positions. The Department of Corrections posted online ads and fliers in gas stations to recruit potential staffers.

The DOC held the first recruit academy at GBCI in hopes that training alongside correctional officers and staying close to home would keep employees.

In May, 41 officers graduated. Twenty-one of those officers stayed at GBCI. Twenty officers went to other state prisons. The former warden told us he suspected the number of open jobs would fall to six by June.

It's now November, and an officer who currently works at the prison informed us that staffing remains a problem.

NEW RECRUITS LEAVING

We reached out to the DOC and were told 11 of the 21 graduates are still at GBCI. Twelve of the 20 assigned to other institutions still work for the DOC.

We also reached out to the outgoing Scott Walker administration and the incoming Tony Evers administration for answers.

The DOC points to successful recruitment events over the summer. The agency says 138 new officers and sergeants will graduate from academies over the news few weeks.

However, GBCI is now short 46 officer and sergeant positions. Six new recruits will join the team by mid-December.

WHY ARE EMPLOYEES LEAVING?

The Department of Corrections said historically low unemployment levels and the changing workforce play a part in the staffing issues.

Officers who spoke with us off camera said safety, hours, forced overtime and pay are issues.

Between 2016 and 2019, the DOC will have increased base pay by 9.5 percent for correctional officers, correctional sergeants, youth counselors and youth counselors-advanced. In March, they added a dollar per hour to GBCI officers, counselors and staff.

Staffing is not just an issue for GBCI, Oshkosh Correctional Institution vacancy rate is 18.89 percent for officers and sergeants (As of Oct. 30, 2018).

What happens next is unknown. These issues will be addressed by Governor-elect Tony Evers or through the state's next budget.

The Evers transition team says the governor-elect has been in budget meetings all day and is looking at the issue.

The DOC says upcoming graduates will be posted to these facilities:

New officers and sergeants will be posted to the following facilities:

· 1 sergeant to Oshkosh Correctional Institution

· 1 sergeant to Fox Lake Correctional Institution

· 1 sergeant to the St. Croix Correctional Center

· 1 sergeant to Thompson Correctional Center

· 1 sergeant to McNaughton Correctional Center

· 1 sergeant to New Lisbon Correctional Institution

· 18 officers to Oshkosh Correctional Institution

· 17 officers to Columbia Correctional Institution

· 14 officers to Racine Correctional Institution

· 12 officers to Jackson Correctional Institution

· 9 officers to the Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility

· 8 officers to Dodge Correctional Institution

· 8 officers to Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution

· 8 officers to Stanley Correctional Institution

· 7 officers to the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility

· 6 officers to Green Bay Correctional Institution

· 6 officers to the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility

· 6 officers to Redgranite Correctional Institution

· 4 officers to Taycheedah Correctional Institution

· 4 officers to Robert Ellsworth Correctional Center

· 2 officers to Waupun Correctional Institution

· 1 officer to New Lisbon Correctional Institution

· 1 officer to Oakhill Correctional Institution

· 1 officer to the Chippewa Valley Correctional Treatment Facility