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Correctional staff shortage adds up to costly overtime

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A shortage of correctional officers to work in Wisconsin’s prisons cost taxpayers more than $42 million in overtime last year.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says there are currently 920 unfilled corrections jobs, or a vacancy rate of about 12½ percent.

The worker shortage has been a long standing problem in the Department of Corrections. Overtime pay grew 1.3 percent in 2017 from 2016, a smaller increase than previous years. Despite efforts by corrections officials to recruit and retain more workers, the shortage isn’t showing any signs of improvement.

The Journal Sentinel reports the problem was most severe at Waupun Correctional Institution and Redgranite Correctional Institution, where more than 20 percent of the jobs were open. More than 17 percent of the jobs are open at four other prisons.

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