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Correctional Officer Memorial Service Honors 2 Who Died in 2016

May 17th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

The Department of Corrections today added two names to a memorial honoring fallen correctional officers. Neither of the two died at the hands of an inmate, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, how many more names are added in the future may depend on how quickly the department can hire and retain officers.

Every time a correctional officer walks through secure gates and into work, l they don’t know if they’ll be coming out alive. And, while police officers face the same risk, they are armed. Correctional officers are not, even though many inmates have weapons.

At a ceremony at Wakulla Correctional Institute, Correctional Officer Jerry Waters recognized those who lost their lives in the last year.

“We will forever honor their legacy, commitment, dedication and service” Waters told the crowd.

Two officers died on duty in 2016. Neither at the hands of an inmate, but from the stress of the job says Secretary Julie Jones.

“Having a heart attack is no different than being taken out by an inmate, in my estimation” said Jones after the ceremony.

Names not on this are the names of officers, beaten, punched and perhaps stabbed on an almost daily basis.

Since 2010, inmate on inmate assaults are up over 68 percent. Inmate on officer assaults are up 56 Percent. part of the problem is a vacancy rate over 20 percent in some prisons, requiring 16 hour shifts.

Lawmakers responded with 56 million for pay raises and hiring bonuses.

 

“It does open the employment pool to individuals who would not have envy considered us because of the pay. Um, but then this pay plan also rewards the ones who have stayed with us” says the Secretary.

The dead were honored with a 21 gun salute.

With the additions two names this year, 49 names are listed on the correctional officer memorial. How many more are aded in the future may well  depend on how quickly the DOC can find qualified staff and increase safety for everyone.

Since 2010, turnover among officers has been 95 percent. To stem the flow, Officers under the rank of Captain will see a twenty five hundred dollar raise come July first. New hires will see a thousand dollar hiring bonus, and officers who see promotions will also see a raise.

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