High Prison Guard Turnover

More than half leave each year

Evan Smith
May 23, 2019 - 3:11 pm
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South Carolina prisons are struggling with high turnover rates.

Each year, for the last two years and counting, more than half of all correctional officers working in prisons here in South Carolina have quit or been let go before serving 12 months on the job.

To look at the numbers specifically, in 2017 the state Department of Corrections started in January with 1,732 security positions. By the end of the year, a full 994 of those officers had quit or been let go.

It got worse in 2018, when 1,021 officers had left before the year was up.

That’s a turnover rate of more than 57 percent.

According to Agency Director Bryan Stirling, they’re fully aware of the problem, especially in regard to staff shortages.

And this isn’t Starbucks, obviously – when prisons are understaffed, it puts all the guards at higher risk of violence, especially given how out-numbered they are compared with the prison population behind bars.  

As for how the State Department of Corrections is dealing with the problem, Stirling had one simple sentence: “We’re doing everything we can,” he said.

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