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Politics & Government

Dept. of Correction hopes to get more money for inmate workers

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Roman Battaglia
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Delaware Public Media

The Department of Correction seeks more state funding to bolster security and improve inmate welfare.

The DOC ended up receiving more money than requested last year.

This year, new Commissioner Monroe Hudson is seeking an additional $14 million in operating funds, and $82 million for various capital improvements.

Hudson says one area of focus is inmate health and welfare, including boosting the wages paid to offenders working in Delaware’s prisons.

“Ongoing funding of $200,000 will be utilized to increase the department’s inmate workforce and wage rates by 20 percent," said Hudson. "Inmate wage rates have remained static for more than 30 years.”

DOC policy doesn’t outline a specific pay scale for inmates, but typical pay ranges from 25 cents to 2 dollars an hour.

State lawmakers passed a bill this year seeking to help address the lack of funds to pay inmates. DOC commissioners over the years have said they simply don’t have enough to pay every inmate that wants a job.

The new law allows inmates to earn good time credits, in lieu of dollars, for jobs they perform. Hudson says the goal is to get inmates into jobs that are effective in building skills and good habits, and then start paying them when the budget allows.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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