Public Comments for 10/19/2021 Joint Committee of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions and Public Safety and Senate Judiciary and Rehabilitation and Social Services to Study Staffing Levels, Employment Conditions, and Compensation at the Virginia Department of Corrections
Last Name: Balestrieri Locality: Chesterfield

I am concerned about the DOC employee satisfaction survey that this Committee intends to administer. As I stated yesterday at the meeting during public comment, the draft of the survey provided for review yesterday is seriously methodologically flawed. It needs a serious overhaul, and yet, it appears that the Committee is planning to send it out for completion this week anyway (?). If the data from this survey is going to be used to make policy and budget decisions with real world consequences, the Committee should be more concerned about getting the survey done right, as opposed to just getting it done. Here's a random sample (pun intended) of some of the survey's problems: the demographic questions are incomplete, many questions are duplicative and could/should be collapsed, questions about a number of salient issues are missing, the number of responses are inconsistent across questions (a problem for later coding and analysis), it isn't clear whether or which questions will require responses, there appear to be no time-saving, confusion-reducing skip patterns built in, the survey is way too long (research shows that surveys requiring more than 10 minutes to complete are subject to increased respondent attrition), many questions should have open-ended options for a more holistic, mixed methods approach, it isn't clear whether respondents will be able to select more than one response, the directions for each section of the survey are strangely worded, the survey has not been test-piloted with either civilian or sworn staff, the survey wording and questions appear to be geared toward sworn staff.... as a survey methodologist I could go on and on.... And those are just some thoughts about the survey.... As an academic-practitioner who has spent over a decade working in jails and prisons, I can say with certainty that salary has always been a problem in corrections staff retention, but it isn't the only-- or even necessarily the primary-- one. After all, nobody chooses a career in corrections for the money. Employees don't leave jobs just because of money. They leave bad managers and poor leadership. Working in corrections is hard enough without being disrespected on the daily by your own supervisors.

Last Name: A Murdoch Locality: Tappahannock

Respectfully to avoid high turn over in many different agencies a real plan must be made, which must include fair treatment of staff, the increase of staff, to avoid the word forced overtime, more money, better benefits, staff safety is a main issue all over the United States, diversity and inclusion, above all Crucial conversation and no Retaliation for staff trying to promote new ideas, plus dailouge with all levels to promote true transparency. This is how you open the door to better relationships. Stuff like this is crazy 18 months later, the new normal has brought out issues , such as diversity, inclusion, equality, equity thus cultural Competence. This is a time where we have gone from the pandemic to Andamic, meaning after a pandemic and living with the issues that the pandemic left behind, all of us have a lot of learning to do. We can make it better, if we put our best foot forward. Enough hate, we should be humble that the lord has granted us a second chance at life, so we shouldn't waste our time, we should make our time count, by making positive moves to ensure growth, and memories. Because when our time is up, its time to see the lord, so what do we want to leave the world and our family, what will be our legacy. Many blessings to all for better days. Mr. James A. Murdoch sr 1381 Lewis level road tappahannock Virginia 22560 804-443-4269 H 804-466-2310 C

Last Name: Christopher Locality: Spotsylvania

I thank the committee and its members for taking the time to conduct this study of compensation at the Department of Corrections. I think that the compensation plans for Correction Officers and P&P Officers that Director Clarke presented to the committee was a fantastic plan on how to properly compensate those positions. I would highly recommend that this committee recommend the full funding of each plan that was presented. I also must strongly ask that this committee recommend raises for positions that were not covered by the compensation plans. Most positions within DOC total compensation are trailing at least 20% of those found within the private market. While correctional staff turnover rate is extremely bad, turnover for other staff is very high and is not sustainable and is negatively affecting the productivity of this great agency. This committee should consider recommending that all non-Correctional uniform staff position receive a pay adjust of at least $5,000 and a compression increase. All DOC staff should also remain eligible for increases that the legislature will give in the next 2 year budget. A $5,000 raise is the absolute bare minimum of which should be given and would likely be a great first step to help DOC retain and recruit non-correctional staff members. All VADOC Positions (for that matter state employees) should receive a COLA adjust and merit raise each year. There is no excuse why the legislature does not provide a yearly raise to its employees like any reputable employer does. The reason why we have such staffing issues today is due to the lack of consistent raises by the legislature. The most logical solution to this issue is to get state employee salary back to being competitive with the private market and then codify into the regulations that a COLA and merit raises will be provided to state employees each year. I hope the committee will consider my comments and hope that the next 3 meetings will result in recommendations that will help VADOC in retaining and hiring all staff.

Last Name: Matney Organization: Vadoc Locality: Richlands

I have currently worked as an officer for the department of corrections for 15 years. I wanted to let you know that the main reason for staff turn over is pay. I make 42000 a year now while the new people who have been there a year are making 38 or 39 a year. I think pay compression needs to be addressed. I think for example if starting pay was to increase 10000 then everyone needs an increase of 10000 across the board plus extra for years of service. I hope you really look at the officers that have stuck it out all these years and really consider them.

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