Calling state prisons dangerously understaffed, 200 corrections officers from 11 Eastern states gathered outside the state prison in Concord, Mass., yesterday to focus public attention on the need for increased funding.
The Boston Globe reports that corrections officers stood on the fringe of a busy traffic rotary adjacent to the prison for five hours, holding placards calling for more staffing and waving to passing motorists. Some sounded their horns for the officers, who came from as far away as Florida.
Leaders of the union representing the state’s 5,000 correction officers said fewer officers are guarding roughly the same number of prisoners due to the state’s budget woes. The Department of Correction’s budget grew by $11 million this year, but did not include more hiring. Since 2001, the department has lost almost 400 jobs through attrition, while 52 more officers are absent due to military service. “The thinner the ranks become, the higher the likelihood of assaults on correction officers,” a union official said.
Nationally, 88 correction officers are injured on the job each day, said Brian Dawes of Corrections USA, which represents 395,000 corrections officers.
A commission appointed by Massachusettrs Gov. Mitt Romney after the prison killing of former priest John J. Geoghan is reviewing the Department of Correction, including allegations of understaffing and abuse.