Public Comments for 11/23/2021 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
To all Virginia Delegates and State Senators, We are near the breaking point of what could be a serious public safety situation. The Department of Corrections is severely understaffed. All facilities are covering shifts with skeleton crews just hoping to get through the day. Officers are being overworked well passed the point of exhaustion. Officers are experiencing mental health issues that have even resulted in suicide. Most of the officers that are still with the DOC are here because of their sense of duty. We can all get jobs elsewhere that will pay us just as much, if not more. We don't need to suffer the horrible work conditions that we experience on a daily basis. We need to be compensated fairly. We are currently one of the most successful correctional agencies in America while at the same time being one of the least compensated correctional agencies in the country. We are not asking to become the highest paid officers in the country but we need to join the top 20. We also need to take care of veteran officers with pay raises and incentives in 5 year increments. Veteran officers are essential to running a safe facility. Without them , the prison environment becomes much more dangerous. We are not in these facilities to punish the inmates. Correctional officers try to help inmates rehabilitate and leave the prison life behind them. That being said, we walk in to Hell and keep your worst nightmares at bay. Please help us so that we can continue to protect you.
This department is operating under gross negligence. How is it that the director is able to sign off on a 4.6 % raise for 3 institutions in December, but not for the rest of the Officers in the state? How much longer do our Officers have to work 24/7 and not be able to take off? Over the past 6 years, in the 15 years I have been in the department it has been a pattern of this department whenever Officers want to "Speak Up" or want to come to the "Joint Meetings" to be heard, it always seem to have the institutions shorter staffed than any other time, so that Officers are unable to go, and can be drafted so they will not be able to attend. This is a pattern that I have observed over the years. When will the state realize this department is 49th in the country in Corrections Pay? People are going continue to leave unless the Pay is right, and I don't mean giving $10,000 bonuses to new hires, give it to the veterans that have dedicated they're blood, sweat, and tears to this department and not get nothing back. Furthermore, when you have a Regional Manager, Regional Operations Chief, or any regional manager staff, come to the facility in the administration building to only talk with administration, and not come over to the main facility to speak with front line staff, and spend time with them; it concerns me, and this is not the way it used to be. Why Regional Staff will not give time to their front line staff when they come visit? This is exactly why staff is leaving, because the Regional Management and Headquarters is not spending time with front line workers while visiting, they just want leave as soon as they can, and its wrong. Please fix this, The Department of Corrections is now under dangerous severe short staffing levels; and this is putting the public in danger. Thank you for your time.
I am currently an officer at Virginia correctional center for women, and I believe a lot of officer are underpaid! We are a big part of law enforcement just as every other department in law enforcement but we are the most underpaid and not recognized. There are a lot of different duties that's put on our shoulder, and we are under staffed so it makes it even more difficult to do our job. So a lot of us are extremely exhausted because we are barley getting any sleep almost working and 16 hour shift twice out of the week, and have to come in almost 4 mandatory days. Which that doesn't give us enough rest to get up and come back to work and do our duties. A lot of people are leaving for better opportunity and more money. I have two degree's and this isn't a career that I had in mind but I actually enjoy my job, that why I'm still here. Think about all the money the state puts into training a correctional officer and OIT's finding better jobs with more money just as they finish training your losing out on poetional people that could actually be an asset to the Department. If raising the pay will make people stay, you will have people racing to get here even people that left the department. Also, I will say the inmates are catching on that we are short, and I feel like they will start acting out more because they see we are under staffed.
Hello, I am a correctional officer with the Virginia Department of Corrections, the issues we encounter are stressful working long hours for low pay, this creates a high level of stress when you can't be home to care for your family, I know on the institution where they send their staff to Sussex two state prison for 7 days, then after 7 days away from there time they Asa re then drafted at there home instruction, this not fair, all should go from officer to warden, then all share the same experience, this what truly makes it's fair for all, now this past weekend there was an issue with transportation three runs went out, two, to southside hospital and one to MCV, the result was six officers went out and worked over 16 hours which is against the law, now there was no choice no staff, plus there are offenders must go to the hospital if required. The Assistant warden of Sussex two came in due to short staff and took over and outside tower post, at about 1am, then about an hour later or so, all the wardens, major captains, Lt all came in, they need staff, another issue the Visitation must be scaled back in order to address the security concerns, do visitation should happen twice a month on Saturday or Sunday only and not for period of 12 hours. At the rate the VADOC is going they will lose more staff, the primary reason the executive command staff don't want to hear own concerns and want operate business as usual, this is not possible like that passed, we are in the new normal so we now have to set new ways of doing things to retain staff. 1) primary we need more money 10,000 dollars more to meet the standard of other agencies within the area. 2)staffing is another issue to address 3) Treatment of staff 4)The ombudsman position is needed to monitor the culture and behavior within the Vadoc, this would ensure a better outcome. 5) change the management cultures and the process in the way they do business. 6) advancement of staff training provide more opportunities. 7) education allow the those who attend college in line to get educational leave hours just like those who get direct instruction because either way the person is going for a degree. 8) Centeral classification unit and all units need to listen to each other and have better collaboration. This ensures the best services possible for probationser and contributes to the staff and probationers wellness. Thank you, Mr. James A. Murdoch Sr.