Gov. Laura Kelly said correctional officer staffing vacancies Monday at El Dorado Correctional Facility had been sufficiently diminished to allow rescinding of an order mandating overtime to cover security positions in the prison for adult men.
In February, the Kansas Department of Corrections imposed an emergency staffing order extending officers beyond eight-hour shifts in response to chronic personnel shortages and potential for renewal of inmate upheaval and damaging riots.
Uniformed staff vacancies at El Dorado were reduced from 75 on June 17 to 50 on July 29, officials said. Overall, Department of Corrections vacancies among uniformed positions fell from 342 in mid-June to 252 by the end of July.
The improvement in recruiting was attributed to salary adjustments sought by Kelly and approved by the 2019 Kansas Legislature. Starting wages of correctional officers in Kansas was elevated to $18.26 per hour, up from $15.75.
"Under very difficult circumstances, our employees demonstrated their commitment to each other and to the safety of their fellow Kansans," Kelly said.
The Department of Corrections formally notified the Kansas Organization of State Employees of the decision to withdraw the emergency declaration. A memorandum of understanding between KOSE and the state said the change required a 45-day notice prior to implementation, meaning 12-hour shifts at El Dorado would be brought to a close Oct. 6.
KOSE President Sarah LaFrenz said the labor organization was encouraged state officials took seriously the personnel and safety challenges at El Dorado and other prison facilities. She said KOSE looked forward to working collaboratively with the Department of Corrections in the future.