As most state government agencies talk about cutting budgets and trimming costs, the state Regional Jail Authority is talking about adding personnel. However, Regional Jail Authority Director Joe DeLong argues doing so would amount to a cutting of his budget.
“From a direct cost standpoint, it’s certainly cheaper to have a regular time employee in that position than somebody who’s working overtime,” said DeLong.
DeLong says just the direct cost of overtime pay in a year for the RJA amounts to the cost of 186 full time workers. However, he believes the indirect costs savings would be substantial.
“You also have the issues of Increased security risk, employee fatigue, liability exposure which leads to lawsuits, workers compensation exposure, and certainly employee burnout,” DeLong said.
Burnout is identified as the number one reason corrections officers leave the agency to find other employment. DeLong says the problems are not associated with overcrowding, but admits overcrowding makes the problem worse.
“When you look at the Regional Jail Authority even though we have overcrowding and more inmates have been added, staff has never been added to account for that,” he said. “This has nothing to do with that, it has to do with our minimum staffing standards.”
DeLong says it’s not unusual to have guards working 17 to 20 hour days and believes it’s an unsafe situation.