Up to 109 California corrections department employees have been on paid leaves that have gone on for months and sometimes years as authorities investigate their alleged misdeeds, ranging from having sex with inmates and selling drugs in the prison to spousal abuse and manslaughter, the Los Angeles Times says.
One guard has been on paid leave since Oct. 30, 2000, as the FBI investigates allegations that he had been associating with inmates or parolees who are suspected gang members. The officer – like every other state employee accused but not yet convicted of a crime – has been collecting his full pay – about $55,000 a year – plus benefits.
“It is an absolute embarrassment and a taxpayer boondoggle,” state Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) said. Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), placed the cost of the paid-leave program in “the millions.” Although employees on leave are supposed to stay home during business hours, she said that “they could have their phones forwarded to their cell phones and they could be out on the golf course.”