The State Worker

State won’t take new prison officer applications until April

A prison officer searches a subject on his way to drop off his laundry, inside the High Desert State Prison, near Susanville. The state has suspended taking prison officer applications until April to deal with a backlog of potential candidates.
A prison officer searches a subject on his way to drop off his laundry, inside the High Desert State Prison, near Susanville. The state has suspended taking prison officer applications until April to deal with a backlog of potential candidates. Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

Want to apply to be a correctional officer with the State of California? You’ll have a wait a little longer.

A recruiting push that started in mid-2013 has been so successful that Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials at the end of last year decided to stop taking new job applications until April 1. The moratorium gives the department time to handle a backlog that, according to the department, reached 32,000 applications.

Corrections last year set a goal of hiring 7,000 officers by 2018 to fill anticipated job openings triggered by retirements and new positions created by new inmate health facilities. During the state’s serial budget crises a few years ago, the department’s Galt academy stopped training cadets for a while, further squeezing the workforce through attrition.

$64,956Average regular wage – excluding overtime – paid to a California state correctional officer in 2015, according to state pay data

To catch up with demand, the department last year shortened the length of its cadet academy by four weeks to more quickly move prospective officers through training and into facilities. The change, with the support of the prison officers’ union, allows Corrections to graduate up to 264 more cadets each year than the previous maximum of 792 per year.

Through last month, according to department figures, 5,213 cadets attended CDCR’s training academy. Of those, 4,913 have graduated and taken a job in a correctional facility.

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