Governor Sam Brownback was joined by Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood at the El Dorado Correctional Facility (EDCF) today to announce changes to the Kansas Department of Corrections' (KDOC) pay structure to address correctional officer retention and increase recruitment of new candidates.
Under the new structure, all uniformed corrections staff will receive an approximately 5-percent increase. In addition, the hiring rate for entry-level corrections officers will rise from $13.95 per hour to $14.66 per hour. At EDCF, the hiring rate will rise from $13.95 per hour to $15.75 per hour. All uniformed staff making less than the newly established hiring rates will have their pay increased to the new rates, resulting in a majority of uniformed staff receiving total increases of at least 10 percent.
Gov. Brownback described the pay increase as a significant first step toward making pay competitive in an effort to retain experienced correctional officers at the state's correctional facilities where vacancy rates have increased amid dwindling new officer recruitment.
"First and foremost, I want to thank the men and women of the department of corrections for all of their hard work," Gov. Brownback said. "This job is an exceptionally difficult one – and the state appreciates their sacrifices."
The state must now meet and confer with the State Employees Union before the increases can take effect. Yet, Brownback and Norwood are hopeful that the unions will either agree to the proposal without the need to meet and confer or schedule those discussions within the next few days so that the increases can be implemented at the start of the state's next pay period on August 27.
"Addressing recruitment and retention will require commitment from the legislature, and I encourage them to work with the department of corrections in the 2018 legislation session," Gov. Brownback said.
Corrections Secretary Norwood thanked Gov. Brownback for his support of the department of corrections staff and for personally addressing the critical need at the state's correctional facilities.
"I also would like to thank the Kansas DOC staff for the great work they do day-in and day-out to keep the citizens of Kansas safe," he said. "Correctional work is difficult, and it takes dedicated people who are willing to take on such an important public safety role."
Norwood said the department looks forward to working with the governor's office and the legislature on continuing to strengthen compensation for KDOC staff to include uniformed, non-uniformed and parole staff who contribute so greatly to public safety in Kansas.
The full-time equivalent (FTE) at EDCF is 360, with 166 separations and a 46.11-percent turnover rate. EDCF has the highest turnover rate of all KDOC facilities. All eight of the state's correctional facilities have a combined total of a 2,022 FTE, 670 separations and an average 33.14-percent turnover rate.