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Staffing analysis calls for 137 more officers at Vaughn

James Morrison
Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Department of Correction has released figures from a staffing analysis of James T. Vaughn Correctional Center completed in December.


The study by a Department Staffing Analysis Team (DSAT) calls for 137 additional positions at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in various correctional officer classifications.


That’s on top of 224 current officer vacancies across the Department.


The staffing analysis was recommended by an independent review following last year’s uprising at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.  


Geoff Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, says the recommendation for upwards of 100 additional positions at one facility is in line with figures he’s calculated based on overtime hours worked by current employees.


“They say we have 225 vacancies, and I say we have 500. Basically with the numbers from Vaughn, that puts us up around 400,” he said. “And you still have to do the other two level-5 male facilities in the state.”


According to a Department of Correction official, a staffing analysis has also been done for Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution, and staffing analyses are planned for Howard R. Young and Sussex Correctional Institutions.


The Department estimates the additional 137 positions at Vaughn would cost over $4 million, including new officers authorized and funded in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.


According to a statement by Department of Correction officials, the Department expects to request 68 positions for Fiscal Year 2020, and will not seek additional new positions until that budget submission or until the vacancy level reaches 50 or fewer positions.


“Basically, they’re not going to make the number bigger because all the number’s done over the last 18 months is gotten bigger everyday,” said Geoff Klopp.


Klopp says the Department loses roughly 12 to 13 correctional officers a month, despite a class of 30 having graduatedfrom initial training last month.


The Department is instituting hiring incentivesand increasing recruitment efforts to address the understaffing problem. The Fiscal Year 2019 state budget which the Governor signed last week, includes funding for a $3000 increase to correctional officers’ starting salary and over $3 million for correctional officer career ladder changes, which would allow more officers to access promotions.


Officials say the Department is also offering an incentive signing bonus of $3,000 for new officers who stay with the Department for at least two years and a referral bonus of $1,000 to existing officers who refer a recruit who ends up sticking with the department for at least two years.


The Department is also hiring two full-time recruiters.


The staffing analysis was completed last December, but Department officials say the results weren't shared until now because other state agencies needed time to review it.



“I’m thankful to the members of the DSAT team who meticulously completed this months-long process,” Department of Correction Commissioner Perry Phelps said in a statement. “This information will provide a roadmap for ensuring our resources are deployed most efficiently and effectively. I’m proud of the DOC family and the work they perform daily.”

A Department official says the full James T. Vaughn Correctional Center staffing analysis will not be available to the public because it contains sensitive security information that could put Department staff at risk.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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