Alabama prisons seek 500 more officers; 20 percent raises

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( — The Alabama Department of Corrections will request funding for a 20 percent increase in pay for security staff and to hire 500 more correctional officers, according to a spreadsheet posted for today’s budget hearing before the Alabama Legislature.

The ADOC will ask for a budget increase from $571 million this year to $602 million in the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

Most of that increase, $26 million, will be to pay for the additional officers and higher pay for officers.

Alabama’s prisons have been overcrowded and understaffed for years. The ADOC says some of the facilities have fewer than half the number of officers they need. Commissioner Jeff Dunn told the Legislature’s contract review committee in December that the ADOC would ask the Legislature for better compensation for correctional officers to help in recruiting and retention.

The ADOC is under a federal court order to beef up its security staff, as well as mental health care. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled in 2017 that mental health care in state prisons failed to meet constitutional standards and cited a shortage of officers as a key factor.

Starting pay for a correctional officer is about $30,000.

The budget spreadsheet shows that the increased staff would allow ADOC to reduce overtime costs by $6 million next year.

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