Correctional Officers receive a five percent pay increase, twent - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Correctional Officers receive a five percent pay increase, twenty percent for DPS Troopers

State lawmakers approved a twenty percent pay increase for DPS Troopers, but only gave a five percent increase to Correctional Officers.

At first, The American Federation of State and Municipal Employees Union wanted Correctional Officers to receive a 14% pay increase. The last time correctional officers received a pay increase was six years ago.

With state prisons already short staffed and a 22% to 26% turnover rate, one of the highest in the country, correctional officers make $38,000 dollars at a maxed salary. The union argue the current pay is not enough to keep employees working at the prisons. Across the state, at least 500 correctional officers quit per month. Many of those prisons are already operating at dangerously low staffing rates.

A state trooper makes $61,000 dollars with 20 years experience. Now lawmakers are raising that to around $73,000 dollars. 

Executive Director of AFSCME Union, Brian Olsen, think this is unfair to Correctional Officers.

"It's discouraging, and that's a big difference," said Olsen. "They think they should get more and so do I. I think it shows a lack of responsible governing in Texas."

The five percent pay increase for correctional officer will be split in two years, as well as the 20% pay increase for DPS Troopers. Olsen says working in state prisons is a public safety issue because of what correctional officers deal with on a day-to-day basis.

"They work in unairconditioned areas and there are numerous assaults every year," said Olsen. "They are working for peanuts and they are proud hardworking people that get left out in the cold year after year.

Many Correctional Officers fear for their lives everyday. News Channel 25 was able to get ahold of four days worth of incident reports on what these officers go through everyday.

One incident report states, "An inmate threw an unknown liquid substance at another inmate and spit in the officer's face."

On another day, "Two inmates were arguing and started to fight. The officer told them to stop, they refused and he was forced to use pepper spray on them."

In just one day, 78 incidents similar to these or worse were reported. 

"The officers are discouraged, they find retaliation on the units, danger in the units, they want pay raises," said L.A. Olsen, Political Action Director for AFSCME/CEC7. "They don't get paid for it, but they are dedicated people, they're professional."

DPS Troopers and Correctional Officers will get the pay raise come September.

Texas ranks 47th in the U.S. in terms of pay for Correctional Officers. 

News Channel 25 reached out to DPS for comment, but they declined to comment until Governor Rick Perry signs the bill.

 

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