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March 19, 2018 - 10:30 am
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MARCH 19, 2018 BY BILL DUBENSKY (South Carolina Radio Network)

South Carolina’s prisons agency badly needs more employees, its director told state senators last week.

Department of Corrections (SCDC) Director Bryan Stirling told the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday that he has hundreds of openings. “Frontline, (we have) 625 vacancies, supervisors: 191,” he said. “We lost a lot of folks that had been there a while over the last couple of years.”

He said to make up for the shortage the department has to make current employees work longer. “We’re paying overtime now, average officers salary was actually $38,389.  We had about $10 million in overtime last year. We’re going to pay about $15-16 million this year,” Stirling told senators. “We’re taking our vacancies positions and putting that money into our correctional officers.”

Stirling said that a factor in hiring and retaining employees is low wages. “We’re the fifth-lowest pay in the Southeast, which means we are the fifth-lowest pay in the country for starting off corrections officers.”

He said SCDC is making every effort to recruit new employees. “We’re advertising, we’re hiring. We want to retain people, but we really do need the folks with experience to teach those younger folks.”

Stirling said last week the agency has eased some of the appearance requirements for its officers, including allowing officers to have facial hair.

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