The Mississippi Department of Corrections is considering closing three more Community Work Centers because of a staff shortage.
MDOC officials said the locations in Bolivar, Yazoo, and Jackson counties could be closed beginning in January. Employees would be transferred to a different location.
The agency closed the Alcorn County Community Work Center in November and the Jefferson County Community Work Center in May.
“When I was appointed corrections commissioner by Gov. Bryant, I said my priority was increasing the abysmal pay of corrections employees,” Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher said. “These people do jobs that no one else will do. If we don’t increase wages that lead to retaining staff, there is no question that we will pay a price.”
MDOC officials said they are also having trouble staffing the three state prisons and maintaining adequate staff for its probation and parole offices.
He said one of the issues of why they are under staff is the because of the low pay. Commissioner Fisher said the hasn’t been able to raise pay for employees because of a glitch in the exemption legislation.
“It is difficult to look my people in the eyes and tell them that because of some technical language, they cannot get much-deserved compensation,” Fisher said. “Everybody matters or nobody matters. These people matter.”
“I’ve got a public safety issue,” Fisher said. “We’ve got to pay these people a livable wage. I have asked for help from the leadership and have received commitments to support us.”
The average pay for a corrections officer is $25,968.72. Most of the corrections officers are women, many of whom are single parents. The agency’s turnover rate for a corrections officer is 47 percent. The average pay for a probation/parole agent is $32,520.02. There is a 21 percent vacancy rate for parole/probation agents.