Burnout exacerbates prison officer shortages

Job vacancies at state prisons in Kansas hovered at 380 slots for uniformed officers, including nearly 100 at El Dorado and Lansing prisons.

By

State News

January 20, 2023 - 4:16 PM

Jeff Zmuda, secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections, said the shortage of uniformed officers in the prison system was fueling employee burnout and required ongoing support from the Legislature and Gov. Laura Kelly for salary increases to recruit to fill 380 vacancies statewide. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Kansas Legislature YouTube channel)

TOPEKA — The secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections said 12-hour or longer shifts required of uniformed officers at the El Dorado and Lansing prisons during the past 18 months due to an inability to recruit and retain employees was pushing workers to a breaking point.

Secretary Jeff Zmuda said extended shifts, mandated overtime and little prospect of relief from the workload was grinding down dedicated employees who stuck with the agency despite wages that couldn’t compete with offers in neighboring states. He told Kansas House members it was imperative stopgap financial incentives remain in place or risk a surge in job vacancies. 

Job vacancies at state prisons in Kansas hovered at 380 slots for uniformed officers, including nearly 100 at El Dorado and Lansing prisons.

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