From prisons to jails, staff from both wrestle long work hours

EL DORADO, Kan. (KSNW) – They’re the concerns from those who worked inside El Dorado Correctional Facility.

“We were scheduled eight hour days, but there for a few months I was working 16 hour shifts, three and four days at a time, and it is very understaffed,” says a former El Dorado Correctional Facility CO who wished not to be named.

A facility now in a state of staffing emergency.

“Yeah, short on staff. They knew they could take advantage of us at this time,” adds another former correction officer who recently quit.

These two former El Dorado Correctional Facility officers felt the constraints of under-staffing.

“A lot of staff are burnt out not wanting to do their jobs and just trying to get through the day rather than enforce rules.”

Short staffed prisons and detention facilities are not uncommon. It is also a problem for detention deputies.

“We are requiring people to work more than what we have ever made them work before,” says Sedgwick County Undersheriff Brenda Dietzman.

Dietzman says the detention facility is short 51 positions, and detention deputies do work overtime, sometimes 16 hour shifts.

“It ranges anywhere from around one to three times every four weeks that they have to do that. On top of their scheduled mandatory overtime,” adds Dietzman. “So, we are working our people very, very hard.”

How has Sedgwick County worked to improve the problem?

“The schedule varies but you have more time off, more days off, with the 12 hour shifts than you do the eight hour shifts. But it is what is good for you, that employee, and they can pick which shift they’re on,” says Dietzman.

She says one option they’re considering to improve morale is allowing detention deputies to make their own schedule, still working overtime, but allowing them to pick the shifts they work.

“Basically, you work as a team, and you staff your positions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but as a team you decide when everyone is going to work,” says Dietzman.

One challenge for the Department of Corrections is the difference in pay compared to Sedgwick County detention deputies.

A state corrections officer’s starting pay is $13.61 an hour.

A Sedgwick County jail deputy’s rate is $15.89.

The difference is more than $4,700 a year.

As KSN reported earlier this week, a state lawmaker has called for a 20 percent pay raise for all department of corrections officers, which would bring the base salary to more than $16 an hour.


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