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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SHIRLEY - Managers of the state's prison system need to scale back the benefits given correction officers, who average 52 paid days off a year and are among the highest paid in the country, according to a top-to-bottom investigation of the Department of Correction.

The Governor's Commission on Corrections Reform, which conducted an eight-month review of the department, released its report yesterday in Shirley.

The commission found that the overall health of the department is closely linked to the relationship with labor, as 73 percent of the department's $428 million budget goes to staffing - far above the average 65 percent that prisons nationwide spend on salaries, benefits and wages.

The report noted correctional officers at levels 1, 2 and 3 currently earn, on average, $61,000, $69,000 and $75,000, not including benefits; captains earn $81,000.

The commission was careful not to fault the unions, particularly the largest, the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, which is currently in contract negotiations. It also recognized the difficulty and stress of their jobs, and the integral role strong security plays in a prison system.

"Labor kept their eye on the ball and management didn't assert the balance," said the panel's chairman, former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.

But the report made it clear the state should use collective bargaining to, among other things, eliminate the five unsubstantiated sick days and bring down the number of paid days off per year.

Union officials immediately dug in.

"They are trying to undo 25 years of bargaining history," said Steve Kenneway, president of the correction officers union. "They're in for the fight of their ... lives."

(Published: July 1, 2004)
 

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CO's have one of the nastiest, most thankless jobs in LE, and deserve pay and benefits that will encourage qualified, quality people to stay.

If the Commonwealth wants to save money re: prisons, they only need to look at the money that County officials are spending OUTSIDE of the jails. Merge the jails and prisons under the DOC to protect the CO's and hopefully start to remove the politics (and political appointments) out of corrections.
 

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As a former corrections officer I feel something needs to be said about this report. According to this report the officers get all this time off a year. Well the sad truth in the matter is I know plenty of CO's both in the county and statewide system that lose time every year because their facility it too short staffed to give them the time off and operate safely. The state CO's have bargained in good faith and received beneifits through collective bargaining. The state and some counties run on a 5on 2off system with days by seniority which means you will have to work anywhere between 8 and 12 years to get a weekend and weekday off together. So basically for a CO that means rotten days off not a lot of vacation time and and an average of 55 hours a week inside the walls with a bunch of convicts. The fact that they might get a little more money or time off than the national average I dont think its too much to ask. As far as merging the DOC and the County systems. There are 14 sheriffs who make about 150k a year that would lobby and use everything to keep it from happening. To do it would require amending the state constitution and after the Gay Marriage Nightmare getting 2/3 of politicians to agree on anything will take a miracle
 

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Maybe the DOC is getting 52 days off per year, but hell, I know I am not. Short of using sick time, which we regularly get written up for using, there is no time off. I got one week of vacation this year, on a week I didn't even want. This isn't even a time in issue. Open vacations during the winter season bid, ran out at 12 years. That's right folks! You had to have more than 12 years in to get a winter vacation! Even better, is there are no personal days! Yep that's right, personal days are cancelled due to too many people running around doing something other than keeping the jail secure. But yes, we get far too much time off! This report kills me. Sure I'm getting so many days on the book, but what good are they, if I won't get them, unless it is in the form of a check when I retire?
The even better part, is getting rid of the unsubstantiated sick days. Five unsubstantiated days isn't bad. Am I supposed to run to my doctor on the 6th day I am sick in a year period, just because I deal with a population which is generally very sickly, and full of germs to spread? I was sick as a dog over an unnamed holiday, but couldn't call in sick, because my doctor was closed, and I couldn't afford the $50 copay for an emergency room visit, for the guy to tell me "You have a stomach bug. Sleep it off. Here's your note".
Meanwhile, us good guys sit inside the jails, understaffed, with poor and unsafe working conditions, while our politically connected allies (or enemies depending on how you look at it) run around doing all these other jobs, which have nothing to do with oure core mission, corrections. This state's system makes absolutley no sense. I love being over seen by people who have absolutley no law enforcement or corrections experience whatsoever. I love being a number. I love the fact that my family is a number to these people. Just another day suffering under this state's antiquated system, and Romney and his lacky's penny pinching.
 

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I'm a state CO and have worked at both of the state's maximum security prisons (Walpole and Shirley).You wouldn't believe how bad morale is right now due to all the un-warranted suspensions,firings, and investigations since the whole Geoghan think happened.Now this commission of all these "great minds" of politicians,educators,lawyers,inmate advocates,and even current and former inmates have found away to "reform" the Department of Correction by taking away what little "perks" we have and taking even more power away from officers to empower inmates.The "perks" that we have are the same "perks" that every other state employee has.As far as the report goes,I don't know why they didn't mention the amount of money spent on inmate health care.At my prison alone $30,000 a DAY is spent on inmate medications.Every DAY at one prison.And a nurse told me most of the medications that inmates take are "feel good" medications at tax payers expense.
 
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