In an effort to curb a high turnover rate, eligible state prison guards will get bonuses of $1,250 twice a year.

Justin Jones, director of the Department of Corrections, announced the bonus plan this week on the agency’s Web site.

Jones said the agency is experiencing “critical and recruitment and retention difficulties” among correctional officers, who are charged with maintaining order in the state prison system.


In an effort to curb a high turnover rate, eligible state prison guards will get bonuses of $1,250 twice a year.
Justin Jones, director of the Department of Corrections, announced the bonus plan this week on the agency’s Web site.
Jones said the agency is experiencing “critical and recruitment and retention difficulties” among correctional officers, who are charged with maintaining order in the state prison system.
The two-year bonus plan is an effort to keep new correctional officers from leaving the agency.
The turnover rate for first-level correctional officers was 32 percent in the 2007 fiscal year, dropping to 27 percent and 15 percent among officers in higher classifications.
Seventy-one percent of officers who left the department between May, 2006, and October, 2007, were in their first 24 months of employment.
Jones said the high turnover rate had led to officers having to work extra shifts, as well as their scheduled days off.
“We’re trying to do something to entice them to stay (on the job),” said Jerry Massie, spokesman for the corrections agency. “Once they get past the 24-month period, the turnover rate drops considerably.”
The first three levels of correctional officers will be eligible for the bonus plan, if they have less than three years continuous service. The plan takes effect July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.
Under the plan, $1,250 “incentive” payments will be included in regular payroll checks at six-month intervals. If a new correctional officer remains on the job for two years, the bonuses would total $5,000.
The salary of a beginning correctional officer is less than $25,000 a year, which is considerably below the national average and the reason for the high turnover rate, officials say.
Like other state employees, prison workers did not get a pay raise from the Legislature this year.