From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY — Governor Kay Ivey, during a bill signing ceremony on Wednesday, signed into law House Bill 468, sponsored by Rep. Chris England. HB468 provides a two-step pay raise for certain employees of the Alabama Department of Corrections and expands the incentive program to include bonuses for additional training achievements.
Ivey and her administration said they have made improving Alabama’s prison system a top priority.
“While there is no single solution to the multi-faceted, complex problems of Alabama’s prison system, this legislation is an important step in fully staffing our correctional facilities,” Ivey said. “This bill will go a long way in improving our recruitment and retention efforts, while addressing our understaffed prisons. I’m encouraged by the Legislature’s tireless efforts and willingness to find common ground to provide an ‘Alabama solution to this Alabama problem.’”
The intent of HB468 is to address the understaffing of correctional officers in Alabama prisons. By increasing pay and offering more incentives, the Department of Corrections can remain competitive in recruitment and improve retention rates of security personnel, according to some lawmakers.
“This piece of legislation will put the Department of Corrections in a much better position moving forward,” England said. “It is imperative we more adequately compensate current corrections officers in order to retain them while simultaneously giving a recruiting incentive for potential candidates in the future. This bill accomplishes these points and is why I chose to sponsor this bill.”
HB468 expands the bonus incentive program of the department to include the payment of bonuses for additional training achievements and certain milestones achieved by correctional officers and employees. It also allows for certain employees to receive payment for any accrued and unused annual leave in excess of 480 hours, up to a specified amount.
“This is a monumental bill for the Department of Corrections in terms of providing a comprehensive one-time pay increase for our state correctional officers and security staff,” Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said. “This legislation sends a powerful message to those who want to pursue a career in corrections, and it provides a positive pathway forward for meeting the department’s staffing needs.”
In a recently issued strategic plan, the Department of Corrections emphasized that staffing was a focus area to improving Alabama’s prison system.