|State questions high turnover among prison officers|
|By Associated Press|
Vermont corrections officials are trying to figure out why there is such high turnover among the state's prison officers.
Most of the 36 new corrections officers who graduated from the Vermont Corrections Academy in Rutland March 26 appeared committed to the work for the long term.
"I'm going to stick it out. I love it," said Tracey Blakeney, one of the graduates.
But Corrections Department officials say recent statistics indicate that nearly half of those graduates will be gone from the ranks of corrections officers within two years.
"It's a problem for the department," said Barry Mulcahy, director of the corrections academy. "It's a vital question that we're trying to answer because the national average is about 17 percent (turnover) per year. We're about 8 percent above the national average in a 12-month period."
The new graduates will join about 400 officers currently on duty at the nine prisons around the state. New officers start at $12.50 per hour.
John Adametz was another new graduate confident he would stay on the job for years to come. He said he was "very dedicated to my career. I follow through with things. This is something I like to do and I want to do. I'm confident I can stick with it."
The Corrections Department's staff shortage has forced it to put some new officers on the job right away and have them get their academy training later.
The staff shortage comes to light as the Corrections Department already is dealing with a host of other problems, the most chronic among them overcrowding.
A recent report commissioned by Gov. James Douglas on seven deaths among people in state custody in the past two years found that the department was at fault in three of the deaths. It faulted the system as lacking sufficient accountability.
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