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Dept. of Correction outlines FY 2020 budget request to lawmakers

Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Department of Correction presented its Fiscal Year 2020 budget request to the Joint Finance Committee Tuesday, seeking over $344 million.

DOC is still struggling to attract new correctional officers.

A staffing analysis shows the Vaughn Correctional Center needs an additional 137 more people over the next three fiscal years. But DOC has 209 vacancies statewide.

DOC Commissioner Perry Phelps said he’s confident they’ll fill the vacancies. He adds moving hundreds of inmates to Pennsylvania prisons has stopped the use of forced overtime from rising and is helping reduce it. He says overtime cost $31 million last year.

“So that stopped it from increasing and it’s also starting to trend downward," he said. "So, hopefully you know we can see some additional cost-savings in addition to the health, safety, welfare issues.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections agreed to take up to 330 Delaware inmates for two years.

DOC’s budget ask includes nearly $763,000 going to re-entry services like more behavioral health counseling and vocational programs. The aim is reducing the rate of recidivism.

Republican State Rep. Kevin Hensley said it may be time to raise probation and parole officer salaries after increasing correctional officer pay last year.

“What I feel is missing is getting these salary levels where they need to be in order to retain good folks to make a career out of this and not use these types of jobs as a stepping stone for the purpose of getting some experience,” he said.

DOC brought a similar slate of issues before lawmakers on JFC last year.

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