Colorado: Staff Shortages In Prisons Cause Teachers To Work As Prison Guards

There are at least two Colorado prisons where teachers and caseworkers are now serving as correctional officials. It has been reported by prison guards working at other facilities that they are often required to complete 16-hour double shifts.

There is obviously a “safety issue,” stated Nichole Richardson from Pueblo’s San Carlos Correctional Facility. In order to take advantage of the substantial sign-on incentives offered by Nebraska, she resigned her position and relocated there.

Other members of the prison staff are stepping in for absent teachers, such as the now-former teacher at the Buena Vista Correctional Facility, Paul Brackman, who has said that he works as a correctional officer for half of each week. “It’s not what I signed up for and I’m not very good at it,” he said. I’m just not in the mindset of a corrections officer. And I’m honestly not trying to get there, because I really don’t want to be a corrections officer. ” They weren’t hired for that. That’s not why they came to work for us, “Williams said. “I’ve asked for their grace in the middle of this staffing scenario.”

Due to a shortage of personnel, the caseworkers at the Territorial Correctional Facility in Caon City have also been required to perform the duties of security guards.

Normal employment programs have been eliminated in prisons as a result of the rotation of teachers and social workers into security roles. “Idle hands in a prison system are never good, and it makes it more hazardous for my staff,” Williams said.

The workers at the correctional facility have expressed their worry not just about the security of the facility itself, but also about the impact that the release of convicts would have on society.

According to Brackman, he assisted 13 offenders in obtaining their GEDs during the second half of the year that just passed. Due to the fact that he had to perform guard shifts, the amount of time he could spend teaching was cut in half, which resulted in just two students receiving their degrees over the course of the preceding six months. “We’re putting guys out on the streets without having access to the programs that can facilitate their rehabilitation,” Brackman said.

Williams said that the minimum age to serve as a guard in Colorado has been lowered from 21 to 18, and he is now working with the office of the governor to consider retention and recruiting benefits. Other states, he said, have been much more active with signing bonuses, recruiting bonuses, and employee loyalty incentives.

However, the union that represents correctional facility employees said that, in the meanwhile, the issue is simply becoming worse as instructors like Brackman and guards like Richardson leave the department. “Everybody is basically working in full burnout mode right now,” Brackman said.

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