Prison faced with staffing shortages as officers leave their posts

Local News

CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Across the country, staff inside prisons are leaving their posts to find new opportunities, leaving the future of many jails in peril.

Those effects are being felt as well in our central region. Staffing has always been an issue in prison systems across the country, and even more so since the pandemic began, with many leaving for other jobs since last year, and not as many coming in to fill the voids.

“You can’t say, ‘well we don’t have enough people today we’re not gonna have a jail. So, we have to find a way to make it work,’” said Dave Glass, Clearfield County Commissioner.

But it’s been a challenge making it work, even after multiple hires recently. The Clearfield county jail, which houses about 140 inmates is still operating in a deficit below a full staff of 33 corrections officers.

“You want to be full staff at all times and maybe even extra with a couple of part-timers that you can float and fill,” Glass said.

These shortages are nothing new for the prison industry – but as many jobs face labor shortages – COs across the country are leaving their post for safer – and higher-paying jobs. For some in Clearfield County, they’re leaving for the private system, like the privately-owned Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility, where employees are met with better starting wages and benefits.

“Trying to attract and retain people by building a better culture there, so I feel cautiously optimistic despite all the challenges,” he said.

The county’s prison board and corrections officer unions currently sit in negotiations to revise employee contracts, focused around better pay and benefits. The county’s contract with the prison officers expires at the end of this year. While Glass is optimistic about the two sides coming to an agreement soon, there are still issues that need to be met on both sides.

“It’s been a very productive conversation and I am very much optimistic that we will find a fair contract for them in the very near future,” Glass said.

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