State prison guards deserve pay raise

The American Press

Entry-level prison guards will go from making $12.70 per hour to $13.97 per hour.

American Press composite

Having an adequate number of correctional officers is important to ensure safety for not only the inmates at state prisons, but the staff as well. However, if they aren’t paid enough, it’s hard to find qualified candidates or keep current employees from leaving.

The Department of Public Safety and Corrections has seen its share of corrections officers leave the job not long after being hired. In fact, 814 of the 1,117 entry-level prison guards hired in 2016, or 73 percent, quit within the first year. Many get the training they need, only to get a higher-paying job in the private sector.

The issue of low pay for prison guards has been at the forefront of discussion for some time. Jimmy LeBlanc, corrections department secretary, said some single prison guards, who were starting in their jobs, qualified for food stamps because their pay was so low.

Thankfully, correctional officers are getting a bump in pay, starting immediately.

The Advocate reported last week that the Louisiana State Civil Service Commission voted to boost correctional officers’ pay by anywhere from 2 percent to 10 percent. 

Entry-level prison guards will go from making $12.70 per hour to $13.97 per hour. Higher-ranking officers could see pay increases from 2 percent to 5 percent.

Thomas Bickham, chief financial officer for Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said the increase should cost $9.4 million.

Along with the pay hikes for correctional officers, rank-and-file state government civil service workers will get a raise ranging from 2 percent to 4 percent. That takes effect later in the budget year.

The focus now turns to making sure there is enough money to fund the raises. The Advocate reported that the Division of Administration plans to give $2.4 million to aid in the process. That amount is part of the $3.7 million in savings from the state lowering its prison population.

More savings could also come from less overtime being paid to existing guards, if the pay raise gives potential candidates the incentive to apply for the job.

It’s been a long time coming for correctional officers to get a much-deserved pay bump. The security of state prisons depends on qualified guards, and paying them more will provide an extra layer of protection for everyone involved.

life

Monica Smith’s teaching career began with Tiny Steps

Local News

Pro Watercross: National championships return to LC this weekend

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:What’s latest on our voting?

Crime

LaGrange student arrested for bringing gun to school

life

Mom’s school lunches look complicated, but they’re not

Local News

Entergy customers will pay $3.2 billion to reimburse company for repair costs

Local News

United Way to open Entergy Utility Assistance Program Wednesday

Local News

Low potential for tropical cyclone development in southwest Gulf

Crime

8/16: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

Elton water services to be shut off at 4 p.m. today

Crime

Sheriff: Teenager shot during Kinder back-to-school party

Crime

8/15: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Crime

LC man charged in Saturday shooting

Local News

Feds oppose unsealing affidavit for Mar-a-Lago warrant

Crime

BREAKING: Mother charged with murder after 6-month-old left in car five hours

Local News

LAPAW in dire need of fosters, donations

Local News

Voting machine debate: Conspiracies question integrity of elections

Local News

Heart for volunteerism at core of Care Help for 40 years

Local News

Impairment, speed suspected in fatal crash

Crime

8/14: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

life

SW La. school lunch menus Aug. 15-19

Local News

Texas man dies when Peterbilt crashes

Business

Business, industry thought leaders George Swift and Daniel Groft optimistic about future of SW La.

Informer

The Informer: Mowing pad being created for cable barrier along I-210