A number of changes are planned for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester — even if it hasn’t yet been determined exactly how they will be financed and all of the plans haven’t been finalized.
Among the proposals: Higher pay for entry level correctional officers — and for all DOC classified personnel.
Some of the proposed changes were discussed during the July 27 Oklahoma Board of Corrections meeting held at the maximum-security prison in McAlester.
Oklahoma DOC Director Justin Jones would like to see a pay increase for entry level correctional officers who are beginning training.
The current rate is $11.83 an hour, eh said.
“We’re looking at changing it to $14 an hour and trying to get leadership at the Capitol,” Jones said, referring to finding someone to take the lead on getting such a proposal through the legislature.
While the pay-increase proposal was initially made in regard to entry-level correctional officers, Jones spoke about how he would like to see it expanded.
If the DOC has its way, “Everyone else would get the same result,” he said.
That could work out to a 5 percent pay increase for all DOC classified personnel, which would come to approximately $12.2 million with benefits, according to Jones.
“If we look at reducing it to 4 percent, it would go from $12.2 million to $11 million,” he said.
Jones said the DOC looked at several facilities where it’s sometime difficult to find enough candidates for employment who can pass a background check.
In some cases that’s because there is lower unemployment in that part of the state. In other cases, some of the those who might have been part of the labor pool have moved to urban areas, he said.
“People aren’t staying on the farms anymore,” Jones said, referring to how the DOC does not have the same size labor pool that it did before.
See more in the Sunday edition of the McAlester News-Capital