More than a third of the correctional officer jobs at the 600-prisoner Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins are unfilled, reports the Associated Press. That means officers must work extraordinary hours–an average of 23 hours of overtime monthly–in a high-security environment. The head of the guards’ union says officers are working so many hours that it’s grinding them down and affecting their judgment. The American Civil Liberties Union, which has a long-running lawsuit over conditions at the prison, is concerned the officer shortage may have contributed to an incident in which an inmate was beaten by other inmates this year.
Dee Garrison, president of the Wyoming Association of Correctional Employees, said of the overworked guards: “You’re tired, you’re exhausted. You’re not as patient as you should be.” Bob Lampert, state corrections director, said the department maintains a minimum staffing level at the Rawlins prison that “exceeds almost any facility in the nation.” The prison is authorized to have 322 employees in security positions but as of early April it had 116 vacancies– more than 36 percent of authorized positions.