Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Nevada, where 20% of rural prison guard jobs are vacant, declares critical labor shortage

The Nevada Board of Examiners voted Tuesday to declare a critical labor shortage for rural Nevada prison guards, Michelle Rindels reports for The Associated Press. Of the 522 rural corrections officer positions available, as of Jan. 31, more than 100 were vacant. The problem has been especially bad at Ely State Prison, which has not been fully staffed in five years. Understaffed prisons force employees to work overtime, which has been known to cause burnout, leading to fatigued guards and creating dangerous situations.

The main problem is that rural prison guard jobs are "low-paying compared with other law enforcement careers, can involve harassment from inmates and means living in far-flung communities short on affordable housing," Rindels writes. Another problem is that many of the prisons are located in areas with high paying mining jobs, which are more likely to draw applicants than prisons.

The labor shortage designation "allows the state to hire back retirees without adversely affecting their public employee pensions," Rindels writes. "Officials with the Nevada Department of Corrections say there are a handful of retirees who expressed a willingness to work in the prisons again." (Read more)

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