According to an investigation from the Associated Press overtime pay for guards in Illinois’ prisons increased 34 percent last year. The rise in overtime corresponded with the shuttering of several facilities, and according to State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) the solution to combat soaring overtime costs is to hire more full time employees, which would not only save the state money on overtime pay, but would also increase the safety and security of Illinois’ correctional facilities.
“Over the last year the state has closed several correctional facilities, contributing to overcrowding in Illinois’ prisons and increasing the number of overtime hours our guards are working,” said Brady. “Of course the overtime costs the state a lot of money, but it also raises questions of safety for the guards and inmates. The more overtime these guards have to work the harder it becomes for them to stay focused which compromises safety for everyone.”
After reading the AP report Brady reviewed what it would cost to hire new employees in order to reduce overtime and increase safety in Illinois’ prisons. For the same amount of money that was spent on overtime, DOC could have hired 1,000 new guards, reduced overtime, and improved safety conditions in Illinois’ correctional facilities. Going forward Brady suggests that hiring new staff may be the way to go.
“The bottom line is that Illinois’ prison system is overcrowded. Facilities are holding about 16,600 more inmates than the system was designed to accommodate and that reduces safety. Hiring more guards is a better investment than continuing to pay over-time, and an investment to ensure that our correctional facilities are safer and more secure.”